In pics | This pilot couple together built a career, and a life, from the age of 19
Sneha Bhanot and Ayush Mahajan are commanders in Air India.
Jul 31, 2020 / 02:05 PM IST
The two met when they were 19. Not on a college campus, but at Air India's training centre in Hyderabad. Since then, over the next 13 years, Sneha Bhanot and Ayush Mahajan, have built a career, and a life, together. The two Air India commanders got married in 2018.
"We each have flown about 11,000 hours. Had our bases in Thiruvananthapuram, Mumbai and Delhi. For four years we flew the Dreamliner, and now fly Airbus A320 and have been part of the Vande Bharat Mission," says Bhanot.
For Bhanot, who grew up in Chandigarh, flying was not a childhood dream. "I came across this flying institute IGRUA in Raebareily on the internet and developed an interest in flying. And my parents supported it," she says.
For Mahajan, flying was a childhood dream. After doing the initial training in the US, he joined Air India. "There is never a dull moment while flying. Each day is different. It is a passion for us," he says.
Bhanot recalls an incident where there was a technical issue in the aircraft, which had just taken off from Bangkok. "I had to take a call, either to return or continue to Delhi, the destination," she says. Bhanot decided to complete the flight and was later commended for her quick thinking as the issue was not big enough to return to Bangkok, and thereby saving Air India of huge costs.
While the two have flown together, they can't do that any longer as rules don't allow spouses in a cockpit. But they did find themselves together in a recent repatriation flight to Singapore. While Bhanot was a passenger and Mahajan flew on one leg, in the second, they swapped roles.
Working on Vande Bharat flights have been challenging, not just because they need to fly for hours wearing the PPE suit, which can be uncomfortable. "We have to undergo tests before and after a flight. And have to wear masks even at home, as we live with parents," says Bhanot.
There are 4-5 days each month when the two don't see each other. "By the time Sneha comes back home, I would have already left for a flight," says Mahajan. But it helps to have a pilot as a spouse. The two discuss their days at work, what can be done better, and understand the pressures and joys that come being a professional pilot.