EXCLUSIVE: Soorarai Pottru Pilot Varsha Nair on Life, Career and What it Takes To Fly!

Varsha Nair is one of a few women working as a commercial pilot in India.  After an arts degree, a lot of convincing, challenges and adventures, Varsha Nair followed her father’s flight path and her childhood dream to become a pilot. In conversation with JFW she tells us about her daily life, hardships and what it takes to fly!

  • Tell us a little about your childhood!

I was born in Palakkad, Kerala. Was based in Trichy till my 5th std then moved to Coimbatore after that. Majorly Coimbatore is the place i spent most of my time growing up. Did my schooling from Kendriya Vidyalaya and graduated with a Bsc degree(Visual Communication) from Grd College of Science, Coimbatore

  • When did you first develop a passion to fly? 

My father was an Air Traffic Controller. I grew up majorly in airports authority of India quarters. Seeing airplanes take off and land was my only happiness. Dad used to take me to the tower most of the days, so I could watch it all the time. That’s how the fascination began and the passion for flying started.


  • Can you recollect your first flight experience as a child 

Yes, first flight experience was in a Cessna training aircraft. The pilot took me on a small joy ride over trichy town during the night. And the 8 year old me knew that this is all I want in life.


  • How did your family react when you told them you wanted to become a pilot? Was it hard to convince them? 

They didn’t take me seriously. Obviously yes! It was super hard for me to convince my parents. They are very simple people and this dream of mine looked next to impossible for them. But I had to stand up for it. Make them understand, that this is my passion and I’ll live up for it no matter what.


  • What were the challenges you faced in your career 

Flying is a career which will give you a lot of challenges everyday. I had to travel to almost all parts of the country for my training and exams. My flight school was located in a remote village near Sagar, Madhya Pradesh. Back then I couldn’t afford a flight ticket and had to travel by trains, late in the night, all alone to get there. I used to be there in my flight school everyday from 5am-7pm in the hangar  waiting for a sortie. Apart from my planned one, thinking I would get an extra hour to log if someone didn’t turn up. Those struggles didn’t look challenging to me coz of my hunger and passion for flying.

  • Did you face any specific challenges because of your gender 

Societal pressure was definitely there. Apart from my close family and friends, nobody else stood by me. They demotivated me big time and told me it was a mans thing to do, my career would be erratic and it wouldn’t be suitable for a girl. Once she gets married who will take care of the family. And on and on. 

  • What was it like to fly a plane for the first time? What was running in your mind 

My first solo. Totally unforgettable experience. I would say it would be the best day for a pilot. I could fly an airplane , take off and land on my own all alone. I was carrying a wide smile throughout the full phase of the flight and patted on my back the moment I landed.


  • Can you recollect one of your most memorable experience in your career ?

A memorable experience was when I took off with passengers for the first time. Knowing I’m the responsible one for so many lives behind me. That sense of responsibility and commitment gave me joy and happiness.

  • The craziest reaction you’ve got or a comment you’ve heard from a passenger 

One grandmother was travelling with her son and knowing that pilot was a woman, requested the cabin crew she would like to meet me after landing. I met her, she had tears of joy. She shook hands with me and told me you’re doing a brilliant job, I wish I had a daughter like you

  • What’s the best and the most difficult aspect about being a pilot 

Best thing – Undoubtedly the best view from an office. Difficult thing – is your schedules, sleep patterns, no common holidays whatsoever. We have no Diwali’s, no New Years or Christmas. 

  • How did you get to be a part of Soorarai pottru? How was the experience being a part of the film 

Asst Director of the film was my junior in college. He approached me and I was excited to do it coz it was a pilot role. Overall amazing experience coz I have never been on a shooting spot and seeing and knowing how the industry works was a great experience and learning for me. 

  • A word to young girls who are looking to venture a career into piloting  

If it’s your passion then do everything to make it happen, no matter what the world says. Failure is irreplaceable when you’re looking for a future in aviation, but never give up. A true aviator never ever gives up on her. Keep working hard and forward and sky is not the limit.



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