Laxmi Shailesh Joshi on following her passion and flying high (literally)

The commercial airline pilot and Covid-19 frontline worker talks to Cosmo India about pursuing her childhood dream, her role in humanitarian aid amid Covid-19, and more.

 Laxmi Shailesh Joshi on following her passion and flying high (literally)

Laxmi Shailesh Joshi is #MoreThanPretty; she’s ‘Pretty Fearless’. In this interview with Cosmo India, the commercial airline pilot and Covid-19 frontline worker discusses her journey
Cosmo: Give us an insight into your journey in aviation? Was it your childhood dream to pursue this career?

Laxmi Shailesh Joshi: Yes, it was always my childhood dream to become a pilot. At the age of eight, I told my father that I want to become a pilot when I grow up. He smiled at me and told me ‘everything is possible if you work hard for your dream’. This had a positive impact on me. So, ever since I was a child, I worked hard and was always focused on turning my dream into reality.
C: What was your support system like while you were training to become a pilot?

LSJ: My biggest support system was my family. My father, mother, sister, and brother—all of them have contributed equally to give me the strength and support I needed during tough times.

C: ⁠Were there any major obstacles that you and your co-pilots faced during the rescue operations as part of the Vande Bharat Mission during Covid-19? Did you undergo any special training for this mission?  

LSJ: During Covid, when everyone was told to stay at home, my colleagues and I operated the maximum number of flights to rescue people. We also flew to Covid hotspot countries, from where we brought back vaccines, hazmat suits, gloves, sanitizers, and many other essentials to India. My family was worried for me especially when I had to fly to China since it was the epicentre and that’s where it all started. However, they were also supportive and proud that I was a part of such a great initiative by Air India and could help the right cause.
Usually, pilots wear uniforms while operating flights. But, during Covid, we were wearing hazmat suits with gloves and head cover—it was a different experience. There was also this time I recall when I went to check the aircraft, and all I could see were boxes of vaccines placed on the seats instead of passengers; again a very different feeling for me.
C: How has your perspective on flying changed since you started actively participating in humanitarian efforts during the pandemic?

LSJ: Since the pandemic, it is not just my perspective on flying, but on life itself that has changed. I will never take anything for granted, and I appreciate every small thing in life.
C: ⁠As a woman in aviation, can you share any particular challenges or even opportunities you've encountered in your career?

LSJ: I feel that time has changed a lot. Now, there are no more barriers in the aviation industry. There’s nothing that women cannot do. In fact, day by day there are more women becoming airline pilots and breaking gender barriers. 

C: ⁠Apart from playing a major role in the rescue missions, what memorable experiences can you recall from your journey as a pilot?

LSJ: I remember the first time I took my father on my flight—I had tears of joy and felt extremely happy. It was a feeling I have never had before, and it is got to be one of the most memorable experiences in my life.

C: ⁠Are there any perks of your job that you get to enjoy in your personal life as well?

LSJ: Yes, travelling. I am a travel freak and I love exploring new places, meeting new people, getting to know different cultures, etc. As an international wide-body aircraft pilot, I am more exposed to more of the world—and that’s what I really enjoy. 

Look courtesy: Mango India @mango @mangostores_india

Shoot talent: Photographer: Anubhav Sood; Stylist: Gopalika Virmani; Assistant Stylist: Riza Rizvi; HMU: Riya Saluja