When the teenage Kashmiri girl Iram Habib expressed her wish to join the aviation sector after Class XII, no one was ready to support her. But, she did not give up on her dreams. Now, the 30-year-old has become the only woman pilot from Srinagar to fly a commercial aircraft. She will join a private airline next month.
It took her six years to convince her parents to allow her to pursue her dream and to find a new lease of life at a flying school in the US. Her parents were understandably apprehensive about allowing their daughter to join the aviation sector as they thought commercial flying wasn’t meant for women living in conflict-torn Kashmir, but looking at her passion, they gave up. Iram’s father Habibulah Zargar is a supplier of surgical equipment to government hospitals.
Iram succeeds Tanvi Raina, a Kashmiri Pandit, who joined Air India as the Valley’s first woman pilot in 2016. In April last year, 21-year-old Ayesha Aziz, also from Kashmir, became India’s youngest student pilot. Iram’s road to becoming a pilot was never easy since it passed through the conservative Kashmiri society.
She completed her training from Miami in the US in 2016 and became a commercial pilot there. “Everyone was surprised to find that I am a Kashmiri Muslim doing flying but I went ahead to achieve my goal,” she said.
“I had to study hard and pass exams. In the US, I had 260 hours of flying experience, which is important for the licence. I got a commercial pilot licence in the US and Canada on the basis of my flying hours but I wanted to work in India,” she said.
Today, with offers from IndiGo and GoAir, she has become the first and the youngest commercial pilot from Srinagar. But despite her accomplishments, her choice of career is still frowned upon by relatives. “They still can’t believe I chose this profession and got a job too!”
Iram has also been trained in Bahrain and Dubai in Airbus 320. In an official statement by Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agricultural Sciences and Technology, Kashmir, Iram's alma mater. “It is a proud moment for the Faculty of Forestry, SKUAST-K that one of our M.Sc Forestry pass outs, namely Iram Habib has been selected as a first officer in the aviation sector,” it said.
Kashmiri woman Iram Habib gives wings to her aspirations