On October 15, 1932, industrialist and aviator JRD Tata undertook the first-ever flight from Karachi to Mumbai. Eighty nine years on, Borivali-based pilot Aarohi Pandit, who flew solo over the Atlantic in 2019 in her single-engine aircraft, is set to replicate the feat on Friday, albeit from Bhuj, the closest airfield in India to Karachi.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Pandit, 25, said, “I will be taking off from Bhuj between 9 am and 10 am and will reach Mumbai by 4 pm with a halt at Ahmedabad for refuelling.”
Pandit will be flying in her Sinus 912 Pipistrel – the same aircraft she used to fly over The Atlantic.
Mihir Bhagvati, president of Bombay Flying Club, said, “Aarohi is a brilliant student and a promising one. She is enacting JRD Tata’s first flight. We will be welcoming her (on Friday).”
Pandit is the first woman pilot to have flown solo across the Atlantic and Pacific oceans in a light sport aircraft. She is also the first woman pilot to fly solo across the Greenland ice caps on a light sport aircraft as well as the first woman pilot to make a cross country flight across Canada in a light sport aircraft.
Pandit, who enrolled at Bombay Flying Club, the first aviation school in the country started by Tata, when she was 17, will fly from the Bhuj runway, which was rebuilt within 72 hours after being destroyed in the 1971 India-Pakistan war. The airstrip was rebuilt by the women of Madhapar village in Kutch and Pandit will play tribute to them through her flight.
During her flight, Pandit is going to use less than 60 litres of petrol for an estimated five hours of flying over the 500-nautical mile distance. She would not be utilising any GPS (Global Positioning System), autopilot or computerised tools and would stay under 5,000-ft above mean sea level, just as Tata did almost nine decades ago.