29 years old and a pilot for a leading airline, Spandana Grandhi broke social stereotypes by getting a job that was once hailed of as a masculine one. As a woman piloting the plane, Spandana talks of how in both her life and career, she’s been lucky enough to face nothing but equality – lending us hope that maybe the world is changing, one family at a time.
Daydreaming of heaven
Spandana knew right from the get-go that a pilot is all she wanted to be. It was when she saw Tabu and Nagarjuna’s flight scene in ‘Ninne Pelladta’ that she realised it was an experience she wanted to have all her life. Except, she wanted it not as a passenger, but as the one flying the plane. Being brought up in an equal gender household, it wasn’t a struggle to get her parents on board with this plan. So much so that her father even suggested her against studying at NIFT, even after she’d already gotten through. “Their only concern was that they couldn’t lend me proper guidance, I was never told I couldn’t be a pilot,” she says.
Spandana worked hard to get into an elite flying school in Pondicherry that provided training to aspirants on an individual level. She would feel lonely and homesick there, not to mention the gruelling training she had to go through. “I was all over the place at first because I had no one to guide me. We had to do 200 hours of flying and submit 6 papers to graduate,” she says.
Clear skies lie ahead
After graduating flight school, her first stint would be as a corporate pilot for GMR’s own private jet. She would continue on with that job till 2012, before shifting to IndiGo. Spandana has recently been promoted to Captain and wants to be a trainer someday. She believes equal opportunities lie in wait for those who have the courage to grab them. Talking about marriage and being married to a pilot she says, “It was never even a point of conversation for both of us as it was taken for granted that I would continue to work even after marriage, just like he would.”
Fame on social media
There was a picture of Spandana circulating on social media claiming her to be the first female pilot from Vizag. When asked about it she says, “It’s absolutely not true. Many parents have commented on these posts refuting the claim and posting pictures of their own pilot daughters. I must be one of the few from Vizag, but I’m definitely not the first nor will I be the last.”