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FEATURE STORY March 16, 2021

Eye in the Sky


Sabrina Dangol/World Bank Nepal

Priya Adhikari, Pilot

Captain Priya Adhikari still remembers the day she was casually asked by her friends to join a helicopter crew on a regular flight. She was studying for her degree in Environmental Science and working as a cabin crew for a domestic airline then. It was a cold winter morning when she stepped into that helicopter for the first time and as the flight took off, so did her ambitions.

Priya counts herself lucky with supportive parents who helped her to go to the Philippines for the rescue course. That was 11 years ago - today she is the only woman in a male-dominated profession of rescue helicopter pilots. And with that comes mixed reactions from her passengers ranging from awe to hesitation. While every flight is an adventure, it carries a certain amount of risk, she says, having lost colleagues in unfortunate accidents. 

The COVID-19 lockdown halted flights for almost three months, but Priya was thankful in being able to spend quality time with her parents at home. A year later, though flights have resumed, albeit slowly, Priya hopes for normalcy soon. She plans to apply for the European Plan for Aviation Safety (EASA) license - a difficult course but it has been her target for a few years now.

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This story is one of 23 stories spotlighting women from Nepal who are breaking the mold through their stories of resilience, hope, and grit amid the COVID19 pandemic. Read all the stories here.