Captain Sami Ara; first lady pilot of Kashmir


SRINAGAR: Amid stereotype of gender bias many daughters of Kashmir have proven their mettle in different spheres of life and outshone boys. Be it Syed Sehrish,  Ruvaida Salaam, Kaneez Fatima, Iram Habib,Captain Tanvi Raina or Ayesha Aziz like daughters and many more. The list of Kashmiri daughter’s who have made prominence in different walks of life is long.

Pic credit: Sami’s Facebook Timeline

However some were privileged enough to enjoy limelight while some daughters like Captain  Sam iAra couldn’t enjoy limelight and media coverage which kept her lesser known to people. Hailing from a rural background, Sami has carved a niche for herself at national level some 25 years back but her achievement and inspirational story remained untold.

Sami Ara is Kashmir’s first commercial pilot from northern Kashmir’s Sumbal tehsil in Bandipora district. Born to Ghulam Mohiuddin and Mukhta Begum, Sami found an educated environment from her home as both her parents were educated government employees.

Her father was a government servant and her mother a teacher. Sami attained her primary education at primary school Sumbal. She was the only girl student in the area’s boys high school. During those days in the area, girls were encouraged to help their parents with domestic chores instead of going to school.  After passing her matriculation examination with flying colors, Sami joined M L Higher Secondary School, Hajin for further studies.

According to her friends, Sami was the apple of every eye in the school for her all-around capabilities. “Besides being sharp in studies, she was an outstanding debater, orator and athlete”, they said. After passing her 12th class examination, she was yearning to become a doctor but couldn’t crack the common entrance test. Her passion to excel in life didn’t stop her from chasing her dreams. She didn’t lose hope rather came up with courage and enthusiasm to face the challenges of life very bravely.

Pic credit: Sami’s Facebook Timeline

Shewent for her BSC degree and was probably the first female science graduate from Sumbal area. After her graduation, she was longing to go for her master’s degree but there was something else in store for her. She opted for a private job at a meagre salary but this didn’t impress her as she had to be an achiever.

According to Sami, hardships and difficulties never stop a person from chasing his/her dreams rather these things make a person stronger and bolder enough to overcome difficult times in life. Sami didn’t give up and continued to look for new fields to explore. After some months, she applied for the job of air hostess and luckily, she got selected. This boosted her morale and gave her self-confidence. Now, Sami began to prepare herself for a bigger endeavour. She kept working hard while earning. Her job of airhostess didn’t stop her from working hard in academics. She used to study late in the nights because she had to perform a challenging job in aviation during the day. Sami began to dream for a bigger career in aviation. Yes, beyond her stint of air hostess.

After many years of hard work, she had gathered enough merit and other requirements to go for commercial pilot training in Texas USA. She completed her training in a record period of three months and was qualified enough to fly an aeroplane. Yes, Sami was now a licensed commercial pilot and probably the first lady pilot of Kashmir valley. She gave wings to her dreams. She showed that hardships can’t deny a person from his/her realizing wishes.

Sami is married to a commercial pilot from Madhya Pradesh and is blessed with two cute sons. According to Sami, ” I have earned enough name, fame and wealth. I wish to sensitize young people particularly girls about the career options in aviation and other sectors. I want to eradicate the stigma of gender bias from my society, particularly from rural areas. Though the scenario is quite different and encouraging compared to my childhood when women education was stigmatized in our valley but we have still a lot to do”.

Giving the credit of her success to her mother and her own hard work, Sami believes that strong willpower and concrete intentions can do miracles.

Pic credit: Sami’s Facebook Timeline

Now when Sami’s inspirational story was public, she has become a new media sensation in Kashmir, with lots of fans and followers. She is visiting educational institutions, colleges and universities to interact with students. She counsels young people about new career options, particularly in aviation. She has become an instant celebrity.

Sami’s tagline on her twitter handle describes her ambitions:“When dreams take flight sky is the limit”. However, her journey has not been easy. Her journey has been full of challenges and hurdles. It was very difficult for her to pursue her dreams because, during those days, girl’s education was a social taboo in her part of Kashmir. A girl’s career in aviation was a tall order but Sami defied all odds and broke the shackles of stereotype to prove her mettle. She brought laurels to whole Kashmir by becoming the first lady pilot of Kashmir.

(The story was written from the inputs based on Article earlier published on on November, 30, 2018 and written by Mushtaq Hurra)