Sarla Thukral: Google Doodle honours first Indian woman pilot on her 107th birth anniversary
At age 21, Sarla Thukral stepped into a small double-winged plane’s cockpit to complete the first solo flight for a woman Indian pilot. Here’s what you need to know about the woman that inspired today’s Google Doodle.
Today's Google Doodle honours Sarla Thukral, the first Indian woman to pilot an aircraft in the country, on her 107th birth anniversary. As the first woman pilot in India, Thukral inspired several women to take up flying over the years. Here's everything you need to know about her life.
Sarla Thukral was born in Delhi in 1914, during the time when India was a British colony and later moved to Lahore, which is in present-day Pakistan now. She wasn't the first pilot in her family – her husband was an airmail pilot, and he came from a family of fliers, according to the company. In an iconic achievement for the time she lived in, Thukral took flight for the first time after gaining her licence in 1936.
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“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 stated. Her achievement was no easy task – Thukral had to complete 1000 hours of flight training to gain her A licence at the Lahore Flying Club. This was another first for Indian women.
Thukral wanted to become a commercial pilot, but World War II put her plans on hold. So she studied fine arts and painting at the Mayo School of Arts in Lahore, later returning to Delhi, the place she was born to design jewellery and clothes for a living.
Google's Doodle was created by guest artist Vrinda Zaveri. Google said that it actually planned to run the Doodle last year, which would have been her 106th birth anniversary. However, Google decided to withhold the doodle in the wake of the tragic Air India international plane crash (that killed 21 persons and both pilots) in Kerala that occurred a day earlier on August 7, 2020. “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 stated.
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