Today Google Doodle celebrates the high spirit of Sarla Thukral, the first Indian woman to pilot an aircraft, to mark her 107th birth anniversary. Being the first Indian pilot in India, Thukral inspired many women to adopt flying as a career for several years. Here’s a brisk life history of her life.
In 1914, during the colonial period, Sarla Thukral was born in Delhi and later shifted to Lahore, presently known as Pakistan. Interestingly, she wasn’t the only pilot in her family- her spouse, an airmail pilot, came from a family of fliers too. After achieving her license in 1936, she took her first flight and presented a momentous accomplishment that left many inspired over generations.
“At age 21, dressed in a traditional sari, she stepped into the cockpit of a small double-winged plane for her first solo flight. Lifting the craft into the sky, she made history in the process,” Google averred. Nevertheless, achieving so much at a tender age is not an easy task, Thukral had to cover 1000 hours of flight training at the Lahore Flying Club.
Thukral desired to become a commercial pilot, but with the advent of World War II, her plans were terminated. After which she decided to pursue fine arts and painting at the Mayo School of Arts in Lahore, later coming back to Delhi, she studied the art of jewellery designing and clothes to earn daily bread.
Guest artist Vrinda Zaveri created the Google Doodle. Google said that it had initially planned to publish the Doodle last year, on her 106th birth anniversary. However, due to the misfortunate incident of the Air India international plane crash (killing 21 persons and both pilots) in Kerala on August 7, 2020, Google decided to withhold the doodle for that year. “Though we don’t 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 honour of her 107th birthday,” the company added.