“Dream big and be courageous to do something about it – For when you give a woman wings, the whole flock flies,” said Audrey Maben and Amy Mehta. They are a dynamic duo who want the world to be more attentive towards women empowerment and they are taking to the cockpit to make it happen.
Audrey and her 19-year-old daughter Amy are embarking upon a 50,000-km journey that covers 25 countries, in just 80 days. Their chariot will be a specially designed microlight plane called ‘Mahi’ and will be piloted by Maben, as they attempt a world record.
The expedition, supported by the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development, is called ‘WE! Women Empower’ and this is their way of crowdfunding a scholarship named ‘WE! Udaan Scholarship’. The scholarship fund helps underprivileged hobby pilots who want to fly.
Amy, who is a photography student, will handle the social media presence of the duo while on the journey. She hopes to compile a photo book at the end of their expedition.
A journey that crams 50,000 km in just 80 days will surely take a toll on their health though. “Safety is utmost priority. A micro flight can endure a maximum of 1200 km a day for about 5-6 hours. We will not be air-borne for too many hours at a stretch. We plan on covering the northern hemisphere and will take the eastward route – cutting through India, South East Asia, Japan, Russia and hopefully Seattle, USA by the 1st of April and then onwards,” Maben told CNN-News 18.
They have also prepared their body for this journey. Both the mother and daughter have been practising physical exercise, yoga and pranayama as well as monitoring their nutritional intake.
Maben told the Times of India, “I’ve flown safely this far. I will start my journey from Jakkur Aerodrome, and want to come back safely to Jakkur. It’s a life-changing task and I can’t expect a better partner than my daughter…”
Audrey and Amy will be the first Indian women to attempt a world record in a microlight plane. Incidentally, this is not Audrey’s first time breaking barriers in the aviation field. In 1993-94, Audrey became the first Indian woman to fly a glider back. And she was just 15 back then!
Speaking to TOI, Audrey said, “I’m not a commercial or a fighter pilot, but a hobby pilot. I run a school in Mysuru, where 200 children study. When I was 22 and pregnant with Amy, my first child, I flew my microlight. I thank my trainers at Jakkur Aerodrome.”
Circumnavigation to crowdfund a scholarship for aspiring female pilots is certainly a unique way to grab eyeballs. Their journey will begin on 18 February 2018 and will include 54 pitstops.