Captain Tarana Saleem — the first female pilot from Sindh — is a source of inspiration for young women who want to break barriers and join the aviation industry. Tarana has flown with various airlines and charter planes after which she started her own air ambulance service.
Having completed her MBA and requisite certifications related to flying, she now also runs ‘We Care for Humanity’ — an internationally recognised organisation working for marginalised communities of the country. While holding various positions in aviation and business associations, she has also held the honour of being the first woman from Pakistan to be a member of the Royal Aeronautical Society of London.
While talking to Sabaat, Saleem said since childhood she wanted to be a pilot. “It was my dream to join the air force but at that time women were unfortunately not allowed to fly fighter jets so I had no choice and went towards commercial airlines.”
Saleem credited her mother for supporting her endeavour — after initial hiccups though — of becoming a commercial pilot.
Sharing her flying experience, she said she has never undertaken an emergency landing or faced any other major issue while being in the air. She remembered that once comedian and compere Moin Akhtar asked “how somebody small like me could fly a plane that is so huge and I replied that I don’t keep the plane on my shoulder, I fly it by using engines!”
“One interesting incident that happened on my first solo training flight was that I buckled the upper belt and forgot the lower one which consequently hung out of the door. I took off, heard a strange, scary noise which continued throughout the flight. When I landed and opened the door it was the buckle that was producing this sound!”
Talking about issues arising from being a professional woman in a male-dominated environment, Saleem explained that she never faced harassment at the workplace ever. “If girls are going in fields like IT, engineering then why not flying. It is something that every girl who dreams of becoming a pilot should pursue to the end.”