They say “life is just a culmination of moments which restore our faith in our species”. One such instance occurred when daughter Ashrrita Chinchankar piloted the farewell flight of her mother, Pooja Chinchankar, who served as an air hostess for 38 years.
“It was a special day, so I had put in a request to be in the same flight,” says Ashrrita to Livemint. “Both of us have worked hard for this day. Even though I got my license in 2008, I only started flying in 2016 because the market was very bad and there were no openings.”
Ashrrita started her career as a pilot in 2016 and on a special request being granted by Air India, got the opportunity to co-pilot her mother’s farewell flight. She told News 18, “It was my mother who had always wanted me to be a pilot. I was a mass media student before she suggested I pursue this”.
In an interview given to Livemint, Pooja Chinchankar talked about her final journey and also her overall experience. She said, “[On the flight] I was pampered. None of the cabin crew members allowed me to work. During our time it was considered ‘abnormal’ for a woman to become a pilot. In fact, Soudamini Deshmukh became the first female commander in [Indian] aviation only in 1988. A lot has changed since then—there are equal opportunities for women in this field now.” Pooja Chinchankar joined Air India in 1980 and has been flying with them since then.
She also talked about her daughter, and The Hindustan Times quoted her as saying, “Ashrrita was a mass media student when I casually happened to ask her if she was interested in flying. To our surprise, she was prepared to go for the course in two days. I wished to see her as a pilot, looking at how such few women take to the profession. After getting her a commercial pilot licence from Canada, Ashrrita got offers from private airlines, but she chose Air India.”
She also revealed that the surprise farewell plan got known to her only on that fateful day when she met her daughter at the airport.
Ashrrita shared her excitement on Twitter and posted tweets before and after the flight.
For all of you who asked that’s mom on her last flight as an operating cabin crew for @airindiain what a lovely day and what amazing passengers! So many best wishes and hugs ♥️ of course I was in the flight deck #proud #grateful pic.twitter.com/eUL3Og4EBr
— Ashrrita (@caramelwings) July 31, 2018
She also shared an emotional video where her mother is seen walking down the aisle of the aircraft amidst applause by the passengers and crew.
Twitterati also commended the amazing gesture. Among the prominent ones was Former Aviation Minister Praful Patel who tweeted,
Some of the most heart warming and pleasant stories are the ones that happen in real life. Make your mother proud @caramelwings, best wishes to both of you!@IndianExpress @airindiain #TuesdayThoughts #stories https://t.co/qFVESvDFMf
— Praful Patel (@praful_patel) July 31, 2018
Air India also congratulated and wished success on her future. They tweeted:
#FlyAI : @caramelwings Our heartfelt wishes to your mother and you for this special flight when she passes the baton on to you to have the privilege of serving our passengers with dedication. The legacy lives on. https://t.co/AxJiFllPbv
— Air India (@airindiain) July 31, 2018
Some of the other tweets by people were:
Must've been such an emotional moment for you two. Good luck to your mom for the new life and I am sure you will continue to take her legacy forward. This is so heartwarming. Hugs. :*
— Farhi (@farhink) July 31, 2018
My mom was in Bombay base too and flew with AI (erstwhile IA) for 34 years before retiring in 2013. She had some of the most colourful, fun stories to share of her time there. Wishing your mom and you all the very best
— Roshni Nair (@dire_nair) July 31, 2018
Reportedly, Air India last year got noticed for two noteworthy achievements. Firstly, Anny Divya became the world’s youngest female commander of a Boeing 777 aeroplane. She was 30 years old and hailed from Vijayawada.
Secondly, Air India also flew an all-female crew operated flight from San Francisco to New Delhi on International Women’s Day, after-which it even applied for a Guinness World Record.