It has been revealed that the co-pilot of the ill-fated flight that crashed in Nepal on Sunday lost her husband in a plane crash 16 years earlier.
Yeti Airlines flight 691 crashed into a gorge near the tourist town of Pokhara, killing all on board in the country’s worst air disaster in 30 years, according to Anju Khatiwada.
Her husband, Dipak Pokhrel, was also co-piloting a Yeti Airlines flight when he died, and his death inspired Anju to pursue a career in aviation.
Distraught at her loss, alone with their young child, Anju’s grief became her motivating force.
“She was a determined woman who stood up for her dreams and fulfilled her husband’s dreams,” said family member Santosh Sharma.
Dipak was in the cockpit of a Twin Otter prop plane carrying rice and food to the western town of Jumla in June 2006 when it crashed and caught fire, killing all nine people on board.
Anju was on her way to becoming a pilot four years later, overcoming numerous obstacles to train in the United States. She joined Yeti Airlines after qualifying.
Anju was a trailblazer, one of only six female pilots employed by the airline, and she had flown nearly 6,400 hours.
“She was a full captain at the airline who had done solo flights,” Yeti Airlines‘ Sudarshan Bartaula explained. “She was a courageous woman.”
Anju later remarried and had a second child while pursuing her career. Friends and family say she was a joy to be around and adored her job. The fact that she and her first husband died in this manner is a tragedy within a tragedy.