"If God made the Earth, then he kept heaven for Nepal. See? That’s the heaven there," says Priya Adhikari as she flies her chopper to Mount Everest, Nepal.
The interesting story of Priya Adhikari, Nepal's lone female rescue helicopter pilot, needs to be told, heard and bookmarked. She has been trending all over social media this week and the reason will inspire you.
The 31-year-old pilot risks her life every day to save mountaineers trekking on the Mount Everest.
Everest's peak, which has a high altitude of 8,848 metres, doesn't offer a terrain that can be easily conquered by everyday trekkers. Every year, people die while climbing Mt. Everest due to various reasons including high-altitude pulmonary oedema issues, avalanches and falling ice - all common problems at such extreme altitude. On 5th June (World Environment Day), 11 dead bodies were found during the Everest clean-up conducted.
Priya's job is to rescue climbers in trouble and bring them back to safety. She flies in a single-pilot chopper and has flown to 6,200 metres (at best) above sea level to Mount Kanchenjunga, the world's third-highest mountain, to rescue a climber.
When asked by ABC News if she enjoys climbing, she revealed that as a rescue pilot, she has seen enough death and destruction on the mountains to rid her of any desire to climb peaks. But that doesn't stop her from risking her life for those who need her help.
Being the only female rescue pilot in the region, especially someone who had been a contestant in the Miss Nepal beauty pageant before, her journey to reach the top (literally) hasn't been an easy one. Priya started off working as an airline cabin attendant before a joyride in a helicopter set her on a different path. "The moment I was inside and the helicopter took off I was like, 'hell yeah! Can I be a pilot?'," she told ABC News. And the rest is history. However, there are hurdles she still faces on a daily basis for being a woman flying in a male-dominated profession.
"The first thing is the trust from the passengers. Whenever they see me, some of them are like, 'oh … female pilot'," exclaimed Priya. In fact, when she first started flying to remote outposts in the Himalayas, she was asked by men whether she felt safe staying in a guesthouse alone, or how she expected to bunk in a tent full of male Sherpas if the weather turned bad. But the fact that the woman runs her all-male staff through the day's missions all day, every day is a befitting reply.
Priya's story is a reminder that there is no such thing as a 'man's job'. And those like her make the world a better, inspiring place. "It will not be questionable again about whether they can do it or not, because I did it. I know I’m the only one in Nepal but there are so many female helicopter pilots across the world,” she added.
The world needs more role models like Priya Adhikari.
Featured Image: ABC News
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