Sabina Shrestha first flew on a plane when she was 11, and she has been obsessed with flying ever since. Today, at age 35 and mother of a daughter, she is Nepal’s first female instructor pilot with Yeti Airlines and her ambition is to fly Aribus 330s or Boeing 777s one day.
“Even back then I wondered how such a huge and heavy metal thing flew in the sky,” Shrestha told us from the cockpit of a BA Jetstream 41 twin turboprop at Kathmandu Airport recently after getting her instructor pilot license. “Flying has just remained a passion ever since.”
Shrestha graduated from Siddhartha Banasthali School and took flying lessons in Texas, getting her instructor pilot rating after winning a scholarship from ‘Ninety Nines’, an organisation of women pilots in America.
Shrestha started out flying Twin Otters to Nepal’s remote and tricky airfields in the mountains. She is used to the surprise of passengers, even foreigners, who are not used to seeing a woman pilot in Nepal, even though there are nearly 20 of them. She says Nepal is one of the most challenging places to fly because of the terrain and weather, and a pilot with experience flying in the Himalaya can fly anywhere in the world.
“My mother always motivated me to follow my passion for flying,” Shrestha said, “if others were to get support like me from their families there would be a lot more women pilots in Nepal.” If Shrestha’s young daughter also wants to be a pilot, we can be sure she would not stop her either.