On In People & Politics

This Mother-Daughter Duo Will Fly across 21 Countries with an Inspiring Message  

The time is now when women are believed to be empowered. The leading example of which is this mother and daughter duo who is preparing to fly a motor glider across 21 countries in 80 days.Capt Audrey Maben, a 42-year-old flying instructor and pilot from Mysore, Karnataka, and her daughter, a photography student, Amy Mehta have come up with WE! Expedition, an initiative to make dreams come true. By this, they want to inspire and encourage young women to come forward who want to learn and earn from flying.Their mission to illustrate the world how empowered women are, motivated me to reach out to them. And after going through this detailed interview of the duo with WittyFeed, you too will be left motivated. 

Meet Amy Mehta who is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in Visual Art at Symbiosis, Pune.

"Being the eldest sibling to two adorable hyper-active monkeys is also a pretty major occupation for me," she believes.   

When asked, who is your role model, Amy? 

"Right from KG to high school, I vividly recall answering every 'Who is your role model?' essay or question with a descriptive write up about how I want to be just like my mother, Capt. Audrey Maben when I grow up. Now that I'm in university, I can see myself aping certain qualities my mother nurtures. We now pass off for sisters!"

Capt. Audrey Deepika Maben is India's first woman microlight flying instructor.  

Her love for flying started when she was an NCC Air Wing cadet, and since then she is setting records in the air. It was her first competitive flight as an NCC cadet in which she won the title of All India Best Girl Glider Pilot.   

Capt. Audrey also holds a place in the Limca Book of Records.

Her first participation as a Microlight Pilot was in the Air Race India 2003. At the event, she was observed flying solo across 2,400 km in five days. She flew in her tiny microlight and set a record for being the only woman to operate as a pilot in command. She had also set a record for her travelled distance and time. It is her hard work and grit that won her a place in the ACI and the Limca Book of Records.    

The message is simple, for a woman willing to rise, the sky is the limit. 

Social Access Communications in collaboration with Ministry of Women and Child Development, Govt of India, and India’s leading premium Hindi entertainment channel, COLORS, launched 'WE! Women Empower.' WE! Women Empower is a movement for females to get the opportunity to experience flight and to taste freedom in its purest sense by the support of Indian Women Pilots' Association (IWPA). It firmly believes in the philosophy that, "When you give a woman wings, the whole flock flies." 

The expedition is to fly across 21 countries covering 50,000 km.

The first-ever circumnavigation in a motor glider has a big mission. Supported by The Navy Blue Foundation, an adventure promoting environmental trust, the WE! Expedition is about making dreams come true for young women who want to learn and earn from flying. With the WE! Udaan Scholarship, deserving girls across 110 cities and towns in India will get a chance to enrol in aviation training, something that has so far been out of reach for those with the aptitude, but without the financial means.By this expedition, the duo will be crowd-funding donations against every kilometre flown to generate the WE Scholarships for girls.  

Being a woman pilot is never easy.

On asking what circumstances are often faced with being a woman pilot, Audrey replied, "We meet plenty of them. A lot of them have to do with surviving in a male-dominated society."  

Audrey is a woman who refused to rise alone.

Capt Audrey Maben runs an inclusive school that revolves around the principle of enabling and empowering others, therefore called I Can.She shares her love for flying with her students by operating microlights actively at Mysore Airport. She also runs Aerosport Camps for children aged 8 to 15 years and has so far worked with almost 10,000 kids.  

WE! Udaan Scholarship fund.

A mother of three, Audrey believes that there is nothing more freeing than the feeling of being airborne, and this is the philosophy that urged the WE! Udaan Scholarship fund. With the WE! Udaan Scholarship, the plan is to create highly trained and motivated flock of young women pilots who will not just increase air connectivity but will also take the country to majestic heights.   

Currently, Audrey is busy preparing herself for the expedition. 

Aircraft readiness, route planning and pilot readiness are what Captain Audrey is currently operating on. She has worked on obtaining a rank that allows her to fly the SINUS 912 motor glider. She has put in hours of training for physical and mental fitness. Plus, hours of cross-country flying across India as readiness is her current routine."I was always ready to do something in the field of Aviation. Since my 15, I have invested years of work towards flying, making others fly and dreaming ahead of myself," she expressed. In the end, to all the ladies out there, "Go on, put on your wings and fly away! You have to be brave to experience freedom, and 'WE' women surely are." We wish the duo all the best for their upcoming expedition and believe their initiative encourages women to follow their dreams.If you have an exciting story to share, do write to me at guneet@wittyfeed.com.