Crisp whites, peak caps, flight bags, four stripes on their shoulders and the love for flying are the constants for three generations of Bhasins. Five members of the family have nearly 100 years of flying between them. The grandfather and the pioneer in the family, Captain Jai Dev Bhasin, was among the first seven pilots in the country to become a commander in 1954. When his future daughter-in-law Nivedita Jain, now 54, joined his company, Indian Airlines, she was the third woman to do so.Today, she and her husband Captain Rohit Bhasin are proud parents of two young commanders, Rohan and Niharika Bhasin.
Nivedita’s face lights up recounting the most important day of her life. “I was at a friend’s birthday party when my father came running with an appointment letter for me from Indian Airlines. The day is etched in my memory. It was June 29, 1984,” she says. She was just 20 then and in the next 11 years, went on to achieve her most cherished career milestones. At 26, already a mother of a one-year-old, she received her command on Boeing 737, becoming the youngest woman captain of a jet plane in the world. Seven years later when she became a commander on Airbus 300, it would be the culmination of her dreams. She also became a trendsetter when she co-piloted the world’s first ever all-women crew flight with a Fokker Friendship aircraft on the Calcutta-Silchar route in 1985. “As a child, I used to keep looking at her while she was getting ready for work and I really wanted to dress up like that one day,” says Niharika, 26, who has been flying with IndiGo for over four years and received her command on the Airbus A320 recently. Nivedita Bhasin was the first pilot in her company to become a mother and it was in the years following her first child that the company instituted a policy on maternity leave. She admits that there were times she thought of quitting the profession, especially when her children were nearing adolescence, but she was not ready to give up on a dream she had struggled to achieve. That dream and passion were passed on to the offspring, who say that the thought of pursuing any other career never crossed their minds. “I was appearing for an interview for KG class when I introduced myself as Captain Rohan Bhasin. Somehow I felt that since both my parents were captains, then I must also be one. I was obsessed with aircraft,” says Rohan, 29, and so within 10 days after his 12 class exams, he was already in the US for training. Rohan has now been an Air Indian for 10 years and flies the Boeing 777 as a commander. While their parents, both of whom fly the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, have not flown together, the father-son duo has been in the cockpit on at least 10 flights.