India’s first woman pilot: Sarla Thukral celebrated with a doodle


8th August, Sunday is the 107th birth anniversary of the first woman who rose fearlessly into the sky and piloted an aircraft. Sarla Thukral was the first woman to break the norms of society and step into the cockpit of a small double-winged plane just at the age of 21 in a traditional saree. In honor of the first woman pilot, search engine giant, Google dedicated its temporary homepage logo to her. The logo was a doodle that recreated the iconic image of the trailblazer, sitting in the cockpit wearing a saree. This high-flying doodle was illustrated via the guest artist Vrinda Zaveri.

Now speaking of Sarla Thukral, she was born on 8th August 1914 in Delhi, British India. Later on, she moved to Lahore which in the present day is now in Pakistan. Other than being a pilot, she was also an entrepreneur and a designer. Thukral was enrolled as a student of the Lahore Flying Club. She was the first Indian woman to receive her A license by completing 1000 hours of flight time. However, World War 2 put a stop to all her preparations of being a commercial pilot and fly planes in the outer world. After that, left with no other choice, she started studying fine art and painting at Lahore’s Mayo School of Arts which is now the National College of Arts. After that, she moved back to Delhi where she built a successful career for herself in jewellery and clothes designing. She also continued her painting, not as an occupation, but as a passion.

Thukral was married way early. Her husband hailed from a family of fliers. Thukral was very much intrigued by them and followed their footsteps by starting to train as a pilot herself. Just at the mere age of 21, she dressed in a traditional saree and stepped into the cockpit for her first solo flight. As soon as she lifted the crate into the sky, she made history and fulfilled all the dreams of all the girls in India who dared not to have any ambition in flying. After this fabulous incident, newspapers published this and broke the stereotype that the skies were only the province of men.

Google said in a statement, “We planned to run this same doodle honoring Sarla Thukral in India last year. However, when the tragic plane crash occurred in Kerela, we withheld the doodle out of respect to the event and relief effort. Though we do not usually run doodles more than once, Thukral left such a lasting legacy for women in aviation that we decided to run the doodle this year in honor of her 107th birthday.” Thukral’s high-end achievements “have paved the way for generations of Indian women to turn their dreams of flight into reality,” Google further explained while elaborating on the doodle.

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