Meet Laxmi Joshi Who Flew To China As Part Of Vande Bharat Mission
Laxmi Joshi was just eight-years-old when she first sat in an airplane. She knew even then that she wanted to become a pilot – and when she grew up, she worked hard to ensure her dream came true.
Ms Joshi was among the several pilots who volunteered for the Vande Bharat mission which started in May 2020 to evacuate Indians stranded abroad due to coronavirus induced travel restrictions.
She speaks about her experience recently, opening up about her childhood dream, the training she underwent to become a pilot, and how she flew three flights a month during the height of the pandemic to rescue Indians stranded abroad.
Ms. Joshi revealed that her father took a loan so she could train to become a pilot. “Go for it, beta. The sky’s the limit!” he told her. After two years, during which she put her “heart and soul” into training, Ms Joshi got her pilot license.
“My dreams had gotten wings, I was ecstatic! Soon after, I landed a job with Air India, the national carrier,” she recalled. When the pandemic hit and the Vande Bharat mission came into being, she volunteered to fly abroad to rescue stranded Indians.
Her parents were worried, but “when I explained how important the mission was, they reluctantly agreed,” says Ms Joshi. Her first flight as part of the rescue mission was to Shanghai in China. “China being the hot spot of Covid, everyone was distressed,” she recalled, adding that she would never forget that flight.
“We aimed to bring back all the Indians stuck there… We all wore hazmat suits through the course of the flight, I flew the flight wearing one,” she said. When they finally landed in India, the passengers gave the crew a standing ovation.
After that, Laxmi Joshi flew three rescue flights a month. The flights were long, and wearing a hazmat suit made it tougher, but she says the thought of Indians who were stuck kept her going. “Once, I even flew to bring medical aid to India.
That was the strangest flight – instead of passengers, we traveled with hundreds of carton boxes,” she said. The pandemic is in its third year now, she says, but the Vande Bharat mission is still pretty active. Ms. Joshi will soon fly out to Newark to bring home Indians who are stranded there.