[100 Emerging Women Leaders] Meet Captain Anny Divya, the world’s youngest commander to fly Boeing 777

Captain Anny Divya was just 21 years when she became the world’s youngest commander to fly a Boeing 777, the longest twin-jet aircraft in the world. In a conversation with HerStory, Anny talks about making her dream of becoming a pilot come true.

Friday August 12, 2022,

3 min Read

“Whenever I would look up at the sky, I was inquisitive about being in the clouds and above them. When I told my mother about my dream to fly, she told me that I don’t have wings to fly and I needed to earn them by becoming a pilot,” says Captain Anny Divya. 

At the age of 21, Captain Anny Divya became the world’s youngest commander to fly a Boeing 777—the world’s longest twin-jet aircraft. 

Hailing from Vijayawada, Andhra Pradesh, young Anny did not come from an aviation background nor had anybody guiding her. “In those days, becoming a pilot was next to dreaming of something impossible. Everybody around me was choosing medical, engineering, civil services, etc., as careers,” says Anny.

However, she held on to her dream. 

Anny enrolled at an Uttar Pradesh-based flying school—Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA)—at the age of 17. Two years later, she began her career with Air India, and, when she was 21 years old, she flew her first Boeing 777. 

But Anny’s journey was not without turbulence. 

Anny recalls, “Coming from a small town and landing among people who could speak English better and were more polished was one of the first challenges. Again, I did not have an aviation background like my peers. I also went from scoring 100% in my board exams to scoring the lowest in aviation school.” 

Although the aviation sector might be heavily male-dominated, Anny feels the narrative is changing. She says the aviation industry is evolving, adding more women to the workforce.

Anny highlights that gender bias is more predominant in other countries. Recalling an incident, Anny says, “I was on a flight where my co-pilot was a guy from another country. He commented that women should stay in the kitchen and not fly planes. I said that one should choose a job based on what they can do best, and I don’t mind being in the kitchen. But, if I can fly better, I should be flying, and if you are good at cooking, then you should try staying in the kitchen, and maybe you will be better there."

Anny says she started her aviation journey by focusing on learning one step at a time, which she claims has landed her where she is today. “I always say that while it is okay not to know, it is not okay to not learn,” she says.

Every challenge has been a milestone for her, she says.

Captain Anny looks at biases against women as stepping stones to excel in life and career. She urges young women leaders to have faith in time and accept failure and success with gratitude to become successful. 

Advising women of her generation and those to come by, Anny says, “All women, especially the young ones, I want you to achieve whatever you dream. There is no right or wrong in what society teaches. But listen to your heart and find the right thing for you to do.”