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21 February 2020

Skardu's Airborne Girl - Amen Amir

Muhammad Shahswar Balti
The writer is a regular contributor of the Dardistan Times.

Amen Amir is Skardu’s first and youngest female to procure a private pilot licence after rigorous training and a series of examinations. Her childhood passion has led her to achieve the opportunity to fly private aircrafts but that is not where she wants to stop. The 20-year-old aspires to become a commercial pilot.

“As a child, I always loved seeing aircrafts and used to wave at all of them. I always wanted to be in the sky,” said the young pilot.

Amen’s father is a government officer in Gilgit-Baltistan and she has three sisters. She is also the niece of the former chief minister of Gilgit-Baltistan Syed Mehdi Shah.

“My mother wasn’t really comfortable with my plans. She thought of it as a dangerous profession. While my father has always been supportive of my decision. He encouraged me to become an aviator,” she told the DT about her family’s reaction to her plans.

She is undergoing training at Rawalpindi Flying Club, Benazir Bhutto International Airport, Islamabad. The 24-months-long rigorous training comprises of 3 months of ground schooling, months of flying and technical examinations.

“I have never been afraid of heights. I was used to it as I had travelled by air before and rode roller coasters. Obviously my first flying experience as the pilot in command was scary. But it feels amazing to see the world from up there. It is just overwhelming and cannot be described in words,” she said about her first flying experience.

“Flying and that too on one of the busiest airports of the country demands a lot of patience. It wasn’t easy at all. At times we had to reach the flying school at 05:30 in the morning for flying, and then the weather conditions and all. It was tough. I thought of calling it off a few times especially when it came to passing my CAA technical exams. They were tough! But it was my passion and love for flying that kept me unswerving,” said she.

Having completed 50 hours of flight in a period of nine months and passing all technical exams for the Private Pilot Licence, she is now eligible for flying private aircrafts. But that is not where Amen wants to stop. She aspires to become a commercial pilot. The Commercial Pilot Licence requires 190 hours of flying.

“It was my dream come true to sit on the left seat of the aircraft and handle the aircraft. I am still a trainee and I have 140 more hours to fly in order to get my CPL. Inshallah I will complete my flying hours and get my commercial pilot licence and then apply in an airline. I want to fly the beautiful birds like B747, A380 and many others. I also want to resume my undergraduate studies either in Pakistan or abroad,” said Amen who joined the flying club after passing her 12th grade examinations.

Amir’s accomplishment as the first and the youngest woman from Skardu to acquire PPL has received praise and appreciation from all over Gilgit-Blatistan.

“I feel blessed and humbled. I always wanted to be unique, and wanted to do something different that nobody had ever done before. Alhamdullilah I became an aviator and I have still got a lot to achieve.”

“I believe there is nothing that men can do and women cannot. Just dream big, set your aims high and work for it. Nothing can stop you if you are strong and determined to achieve it. Have faith in yourself and rule the world,” said Amen urging girls from her region to follow her path and break stereotypes.