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Sarla Sharma: Being a Woman and a Pilot in Lahore in 1936

Being a pilot is not easy for a woman living in Lahore today. The scene was very different before 1947 when Lahore was a major city of India. Born in 1916, Sarla Sharma became the first Indian woman to become a pilot.


IN the year 1936, when many women couldn't dream about driving a car, 21 year old Sarla Sharma, a married woman with a four year old daughter, flew high into the sky. Sarla’s flight using a Gypsy Moth became historic as she became the first Indian woman to fly.

Ms. Sarla Sharma at Lahore Flying Club in 1936

Sarla Sharma was only 21 year old when she became the first Indian woman to earn a pilot license. Her husband P. D. Sharma was the initiator behind that. His family had nine pilots already and they were all supportive of the decision.

However, while she was working towards the commercial pilot license, her husband died in a crash in 1939. She was a widow at 24. She abandoned her plans to become a commercial pilot and became a successful watercolor painter.

Read more at The Tribune

© Anurag Sharma