Who was Sarla Thakral – Indian Pilot, Designer, and Entrepreneur


Sarla Thakral (சரளா தாக்ரல்) (née Sarla Sharma; 1914 – March 15, 2008) was India’s first female pilot.

After her successful 1,000-hour flight career, in 1936 she received her pilot’s license from the Group A. His training and dream of obtaining a Group B commercial pilot license were hampered due to unstable circumstances in India prior to independence. She continued her training after the country’s independence and obtained her professional pilot license, serving as a personal pilot for King Alwari’s planes in 1948 for six months.


Who was Sarla Thakral - Indian Pilot, Designer, and Entrepreneur

The first powered flight in history was successfully landed on December 17, 1903 in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina by the Wright brothers. In several countries, exhibits increased since 1909. From the beginning of the First World War to the start of the Second World War (1914-1939), there was a golden age, a period in which the technique and models of aircraft evolved enormously. .

During this time many pilots emerged, especially when aeronautics developed commercially. Many of these pilots were women. Harriet Quimby of the United States was the first woman to fly in 1911 with a pilot’s license. Sarla Takraw was the first female pilot in the Indian Air Force 25 years after obtaining her pilot license. Sarla was an exceptional achievement at a time when Air India company (currently a private airline in India), was only four years old.



He was born in Lahore, now a city in Pakistan, which was then united with India before its independence. Sarla was born in 1914, and married at the age of 16. Her husband owned the Himalaya Flying Company whose aircraft operated commercial flights between Badrinath and Haritta. Her husband had been the first Air India pilot and she began working as a flight attendant between Karachi and Lahore.

Her husband and father-in-law were also interested in Sarla being the first woman to fly and obtain her license. Her father-in-law, also a pilot, took her to an instructor named Timmy Dasstur at the Lahore Flying Club.

India’s first female pilot

Instructor Dasdur gave him permission to operate the plane after 8-10 hours of training. She flew alone for the first time in 1936 in a small de Havilland Gypsy Mott. I was 21 years old. She usually flew wearing the sari she usually wore.3.

At a time when the limited public life of Indian women did not admit it, she claimed that her family supported her to train as a pilot, and was the only person who worked at the flying club who was questioned. After disregarding the first female pilot, she was left alone in Lahore in the face of her perseverance and was able to pilot after the first thousand hours of flight as a licensed pilot.

Her husband died in a plane crash in 1939. She then went to Jodhpur to apply for the professional pilot’s license, at which time World War II began with internal aerial exercises. After postponing her project of becoming a professional pilot, she returned to Lahore and studied painting and completed a BA in Bronze Art in Bengal.

Sarla’s life in independent India

In future Pakistan, unrest increased as Independence Day approached. If husbands died, poison was offered to their widows so that they would poison themselves if they were taken hostage. Sarla decided to move to Delhi with her two daughters.


There she began a career as a businesswoman designing and making jewelry. She joined the Araj Samaj, a spiritual community dedicated to teaching the Vedas started by Maharshi Sami Dayananda Saraswati, and was once again supported by her parents. She remarried in 1948 to RP Thakral. After completing her professional pilot training, Sarla received a professional pilot’s license in the same 1948 and found in the newspaper an application for an aviator for a royal family and applied for the position, flying special flights for six months for King Alwari.

Who was Sarla Thakral - Indian Pilot, Designer, and Entrepreneur

The rest of her life was dedicated to designing ornaments and costume jewelery along with clothing.5 Many of her saris and artisan jewelry she designed with printed paintings. A successful businesswoman, her clients included Vijayalakshmi Pandit, the sister of Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. Sarla passed away on March 15, 2008.

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