Anny Divya is a 30-year-old Indian woman who has masterfully dismantled gender stereotypes by achieving her childhood dream of becoming a pilot.
The passionate aviator, who has been flying for Air India for over a decade now, still currently holds the honor of being the youngest female commander of a Boeing 777 aircraft in the world.
In an interview with CNN, Divya revealed how, as a young child with very high-reaching aspirations, she yearned for a mentor who can help her.
“I didn’t have anybody around who knew about piloting at that time,” Divya shared. “I had no guidance […] I just wanted to fly.”
At age 17, she was able to apply and get accepted at a flying school despite lacking in any prior knowledge of the field she was getting into.
She noted that many of her new course mates had flying experience, or have at least someone from their families who are also in the aviation industry.
All Divya had was her dream and passion and barely anything else.
“I had no clue about any aircraft, technology, nothing,” she says. “I’d never had any flying background or anybody to guide me, the whole subject was very new to me.”
In addition to the technical challenges that she faced, Divya noted that she also found some cultural hijinks that she needed to conquer.
As a young girl who comes from the small city of Vijayawada in the southeastern part of India, Divya found her completely new environment in the country’s most populous state of Uttar Pradesh to be quite a challenge.
“I had issues with the language and cultural changes, even the way I would dress was different because I came from a smaller city,” Divya says. “The others were from good cities and had gone to good schools and colleges […] I had language barriers, I had cultural barriers.”
Divya focused on her target and utilized her strong work ethic to overcome these challenges.
“I wanted to become a pilot, that’s what I wanted to do. So even though I was not doing OK initially, I was very determined to just do it.”
With the love and support of her family, Divya was able to endure the hardships that came with her chosen profession.
“Even though there were financial issues — paying for flying was a lot of money for my parents at the time. It’s only with their support that I could do it.”
Through Divya’s hard work, she was able to finish her training at 19 and began working for Air India in 2006. She regularly flies to New York, Chicago, and San Francisco.
“By the time I got my job I had learned a lot in life,” Divya said. “I went to Spain [to train] and I’ve been doing big international flights for 10 years now.”
With a decade of experience behind her, she said she still meets people who are surprised that she’s a female pilot.
“When I go on flights, people keep asking ‘Are you a commander?'” she says. “They’re like, ‘But she’s such a young girl to be flying such a big plane!'”
Divya also revealed how she enjoys every part of the job, including “traveling and wearing the uniform.”
Her success has also propelled her into some sort of celebrity status in her home country as many young people now aspire to be like her.
“I’m really happy that people are inspired and they want to achieve their dreams,” she shared.
“I want guys, girls, everybody to achieve their dream and if you want to become a pilot you need to have a passion for this.”
Looking into the future, Divya revealed that she still has got a lot of things that she wants to achieve:
“Right now I want to fly new air crafts, with more advanced technology,” she noted. “I also want to get into teaching, I want to become a trainer.”