Madhusmita Patnaik, The First Odia Woman Flight Commander/Captain In An International Airlines
Soumya Ranjan Sahoo/Sangita Agarwal
5 months ago
Bhubaneswar: Capturing the skies as a commander in a leading commercial airlines (Air Arabia), based in Dubai with a doting husband and a son, life seems to be too perfect for Madhusmita Patnaik, the first Odia lady to be a flight commander in an international airlines.
Born in Berhampur, Madhusmita was one of the three sisters born to a doctor couple. She did her schooling from Sacred Heart Convent, Rayagada and then shifted to Bhubaneswar with her parents.
As per the social norms prevalent in Indian society, Madhusmita was expected to pursue either medical or engineering but she had other dreams and aspired to become a pilot from the very beginning.
After much persuasion, she enrolled herself in the expensive Odisha Flying Club during her graduation days, but to her dismay, there were no enough aircrafts or instructors for the students in the Club.
In three years of training, she had managed to complete only 60 hours of flying instead of 250 hours which was needed to get a commercial pilot licence. This did not deter her and she decided to go to Texas, US for completion of the course.
In just a year, she completed her course and got her license. For further experience, she also acquired a flight instructor licence and trained students in Texas for two years.
"India was beckoning me and I decided to return back to India. Once I landed in India, my never-ending ordeal started. The first big hassle was to deal with the bureaucracy to change my licence to an Indian permit. The long process of paperwork and formalities along with the fact that I was a female made the affair all the more strenuous," informed Madhusmita.
" Once it was fixed, my next nightmare was getting a job. I had a tough time for whole five years (1998-2003). Aviation industry was in shambles in India. The government airlines had very less vacancies and that too, reservations made it more tough to get in those limited seats. To keep myself updated and current, I resorted to be a flight instructor. At one point of time, I even thought of quitting the profession, but Avinash Satpathy, my husband stood as a pillar of support for me," says the proud wife.
In 2003, things turned to settle down in aviation industry. Madhusmita became the mother of a sweet little son, Aman. Her husband encouraged her and she joined the Air Deccan in 2004 as a co-pilot.
Never to look back, she worked in Kingfisher Airlines and joined Go-Air as captain for 5 years before moving to Air Arabia.
Now a Senior Commander in Air Arabia, she very proudly and fondly credits her success to both the boys in her life.
"Avinash quit his job in Indian Army the year our son was born, to stay with him when I was away flying. He moved to Ahmedabad when I was posted there and started his business venture, now he has moved to Dubai with me, managing his business from there. And I think I have the most understanding child one can ever wish for. My son, Aman, is a driving force and a big motivation for me, always pushing me to do my duty first," chirps Madhusmita.
She still faces the flak of her male counterparts in the cockpit but that does not deter her from during her duty with full earnest and expertise. Wishing that more girls would opt flying as a career option, she is ready for any kind of support she can extend to the girls of India in general and Odisha in particular.
In a rich State with poor people, where female foeticide and dowry crimes are still rampant, where the female literacy rate is low, where poor education and lack of skills hamper the participation of girls in workforce population of the State,where familial and social attitude towards the women hinders their empowerment, where they are expected to marry off soon foregoing their dreams, Madhusmita has proved that strong determination and right perception along with big dreams leads to the sky as a limit.
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