Sunday, 11 January 2009

Arpinder Kaur

Arpinder Kaur is the first turbaned Sikh pilot to fly a commercial airline in the United States. She was hired by the American Airlines Corporation (AMR) in March, 2008. Arpinder flies Embraer Jets for American Eagle, a regional airline that is part of AMR and she is based out of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. On her feat she has said that, "Two of the reasons I did this were: first, my love of flying and, second, to set a precedent for the community so they know you can be in your Sikh appearance and do anything out there; so that my younger brothers and sisters [the rising generation] will pursue their passions while practicing their Sikh faith,”. She has said that she knew she wanted to be a pilot the very first time she was in an airplane. She was 14 and moving from the Panjab to the United States. The crew let her sit in the cockpit and see everything that they did. “That is the day I found in me this passion for flying,” Kaur said. She lived in Virginia after the move and attended George Mason University (VA) where she graduated with a degree in information systems, but she did not forget her dream of flying over the years, though her mother told her that girls should not be pilots because it was too dangerous. It was the love and support of her husband, Pritpal Singh that pushed her forward on the path toward becoming a pilot. From 2003 to 2005 Kaur was trained by Jesse Sherwood in Kansas. In 2005, Kaur moved to San Antonio and spent two more years as a flight instructor at Wright Flyers Aviation at the San Antonio International Airport. In January of 2008 she applied to be a pilot at American Airlines; her application was accepted in March and from 17 March through 7 June 2008, she underwent their pilot training program. She stated that just recently she had resolved the issue of her flying turbaned – the American Airlines manual allows “regulation approved hats” – by filling out an Accommodation Form. Kaur received help from The Sikh Coalition (SC), while she was planning the best way to secure an accommodation agreement about her turban. Harsimran Kaur, a staff attorney who consulted with Kaur said that, “the Sikh Coalition appreciates American Eagle’s willingness to accommodate Ms. Kaur’s religiously-mandated turban consistent with state and federal anti-discrimination law.” Harinder Singh, executive director of the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) in San Antonio, Texas said, “This is a great day for the Sikhs in America. Religious accommodation, not assimilation, is what the founders of this great nation envisioned and we are thrilled American Airlines celebrates the rich religious and cultural diversity of all American populations.”

This is a video by Raj Singh on Arpinder.

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