Shital Mahajan, the first woman in the world to have executed a sky-dive from the North and South Poles, has 5 World Records and 14 National Records to her name.
Pune-based Shital Mahajan was introduced to skydiving in the year 2002, by a friend’s brother who was an Air Force officer. Intrigued by the adventure the sport held, she learnt the basics of skydiving from him and soon, sought advanced training. However, at that time, a civilian could not be trained within the country and had to go abroad if they desired to pursue the sport.
In a society where the number of girls in adventure sports is almost negligible, the biggest challenge Shital faced was breaking the stereotypes and antiquated notions associated with women in adventure sports.
Her parents remained unconvinced. For a family that had not travelled in an aircraft, jumping out of one seemed unfathomable! And besides ‘Girls don’t do such things!’ they told her.
But Shital remained undeterred. She convinced her parents, explaining that sky diving was her passion and were she to die because of it, it would be her responsibility and hers alone.
It took time, but her parents finally got on-board with the idea. There was no looking back for Shital after that!
On 18th April 2004, she became the first woman in the world to execute a sky-dive from the North Pole from a height of 2400 feet, that too without any prior training!
Photo Credit: sportskeeda.com
Without any land to set her feet on, she landed on an ice slope in the sub-zero temperature of minus 37 degrees Celsius.
In 2006, Shital performed the sky fall from both, the South Pole and the North Pole, becoming the first woman in the world to do so, yet again.
Today, Shital has many feathers in her cap. The 34-year-old has five world records, 14 national records and a Padm Shri Award to her name, as well as over 650 jumps! She has acquired the A, B, C and D licenses from the United States Parachuting Association, which now permit her to compete in events all around the world.
In the year 2011, she was awarded the Padma Shri, from the then President Pratibha Patil.
Shital recently founded the Phoenix Skydiving Academy. Despite the international accolades she has received, India barely recognizes the sport and also lacks the facilities to train people in skydiving. This forces enthusiasts to train abroad at high costs. Through the academy, Shital aims to give back to her country. The academy will function as a professional training institute that will offer training in skydiving at nominal costs.
Through the academy, Shital will soon be creating history yet again, by providing an opportunity for 100 women to create a world record in sky-diving and scuba diving.
Titled Dare 2 Dive, this world record attempt will take place at Gold Coast, Australia, in December.
Picture Source: Facebook-Phoenix Skydiving Academy
It will be a tandem jump, which generally requires little or no training. Shital considers this her initiative to empower the Indian women.
Shital Mahajan is truly born for the blue skies. In April 2008, Shital married software engineer Vaibhav Rane in a unique wedding that was conducted in a hot-air balloon near Pune, 600-feet above the ground.
Shital has surely come a long way and has made her mark in skydiving. She journey is an inspiration to all.