Mysuru: ‘I Can’ is the name of the school I started ten years ago in Mysuru to help every child believe in himself or herself. It is with the same spirit I am embarking on an adventure with my daughter to fly around the world in 80 days,” said Capt. Audrey Deepika Maben.
Audrey Maben, 41 and her daughter Amy Mehta, 19, a photography student will take off in a motor glider on February 18 to circumnavigate the world in 80 days. This world record attempt already termed, as an extraordinary attempt of exemplary courage, mental agility and one-of-its-kind aerosport adventure, was announced on Nov.29 at Jakkur Aerodrome in Bengaluru.
Capt. Audrey Maben took to the skies as a young NCC Cadet at the age of 15. Winning a national competition, the All India Best Girl Glider Pilot in 1993-94, she decided to pursue gliding by enrolling into the IIT Kanpur Gliding Centre and thereafter obtained her first Glider Pilots License. She then went on to obtain a Microlight Pilots License and set a national flying record by participating in the Air Race India 2003. Besides being the only woman to fly as pilot-in-command during the race, she covered a distance of 2400 kms in five days from Bangalore to Nagpur and back — Solo in a microlight. A feat established by The Aeroclub of India and listed in the Limca Book of Records. In 2007, Audrey went on to become the country’s first woman flight instructor.
Amy Mehta, who is accompanying her mother on this mission, has flown with her since she was a child. “I am excited to be in this mission. I am taking special leave for this expedition. I will be my mother’s eyes and ears during the journey. I will look after social media and post messages,” she said.
The trailblazing journey has been conceptualised by Social Access Communications with its campaign ‘WE! Women Empower’ in association with a private television channel and the Union Ministry of Women and Child Development.
Speaking to Star of Mysore, Audrey Maben said that the purpose of this adventure apart from flying was to raise funds for UDAN scholarships for underprivileged girls to fly. “We also hope that people will come forward to support us with funds for the expenditure for the journey. The details are there on the website www.wefly.org.in,” she said.
The expedition will fly across 21 countries flying a distance of nearly 50,000 kms. “To me flying has spelt nothing but freedom. It is pure joy to be airborne. Getting an opportunity to see the world and become one with it, is an elevated state of freedom. This mission will give wings to many more girls like me who dreamt of flying every day. All dreams can come true. I have been blessed to live my dream,” she added.
The expedition is supported by the Indian Women’s Pilot Association (IWPA), Aerosource India Pvt Ltd, Aerotech FMS Pvt Ltd, Government Flying Training School (GFTS) and The Navy Blue Foundation (NBF).
Training for five months
The mother-daughter duo will be flying in a Sinus Pipistrel 912 engine ultralight motor glider, imported from Slovenia. Audrey said that she would fly only during the day as she has not been cleared for night flying.
They will be covering South East Asia, Japan, USA, Alaska, Iceland, Greenland, Europe and head back East to India from Rajasthan and they hope to complete the whole journey in 80 days.
“My daughter Amy who also studied in ‘I Can’ and I have been training in Mysuru for five months now with a physical trainer, a yoga guru and a nutritionist for the physically challenging and mentally demanding journey,” said Audrey.
Maneka Gandhi all praise…
Union Minister for Women and Child Development Maneka Gandhi has commended the extraordinary expedition of Capt. Audrey Deepika Maben and her daughter Amy Mehta and extended her whole-hearted support.
In a congratulatory message to the launch event she has said, “I am delighted that Capt. Audrey Maben, a gifted microlight pilot, and India’s first microlight flying instructor, who is also a mother of three and runs an efficient school aptly called I Can, has decided to undertake this brave mission of circumnavigating our beautiful planet in a tiny plane to raise funds for the training of underprivileged girls in aviation. Not only that, she will be accompanied by her 19-year-old daughter Amy, as the mission’s eyes and ears and social media correspondent. A first ever mother-daughter team. She will not only create a world record, and put Indian women on the world map yet again, she also sets an example of genuine empowerment of our daughters everywhere.”
“They say that when you give woman wings, the whole flock flies. I urge all of India to fly with Capt. Audrey and with Amy, and take to the skies, to cheer her on and contribute generously to the ‘WE! Udan Scholarship Fund,” said Maneka Gandhi, who also writes a weekly column titled Pet Talk for Star of Mysore, in her official message.