When I was asked to interview one of the first airline pilot from our own beloved city of Udaipur, I was naturally quite interested to know about this young man as I live far away from my hometown and completely depend on pilots to fly me home. I have immense regards for the people in the aviation industry because in my opinion, they work round the clock to bring the world closer. My respect grew tenfold for him when I came to know that he is not just a commercial airline pilot but also a Corona Warrior, flying medicines, vaccines and food supplies to the worst affected countries.
Udaipur Times caught up with Saadat Tehsin in an exclusive email based interview and we are delighted to share the sky-bound journey of this young man from Udaipur with our readers.
Born and brought up in Udaipur, Saadat completed his schooling from The Study. He belongs to the Tehsin family, who has made significant contributions to the society of Udaipur. His grandfather T.H. Tehsin held office as Vice Mayor of the then Udaipur Municipal Corporation; also served as Acting Mayor and was one of the earliest big game hunters turned wildlife conservationist. Saadat's uncle, Dr. Raza Tehsin, known as the Vasco da Gama of Udaipur forests, has been a household name in the region, initiating the wildlife conservation movement in Southern Rajasthan.
Both Shri T. H. Tehsin and his wife were active socially. Shrimati Khurshid Banu Tehsin, who didn’t have a leg, was one of the initiators of women’s literacy movement in southern Rajasthan. She was vice president, state branch of All India Women’s Congress, of which Maharani Gayatri Devi was the president. In 1942, she formed Bazm-e-Niswan, a women’s study group, with a library, to spread Gandhi's message and increase awareness about the country’s socio-political situation.
“I’ve always been interested in wildlife. Venturing alone in the wild during my school days was one of my favourite pastimes - sleeping in the forest, climbing trees and spending hours bird-watching, learning to catch and release snakes in the early days – all of it came naturally to me. I have closely worked with a few NGOs for the conservation of the environment and the wildlife and have also worked with the Rajasthan forest department in many of their activities and workshops. The love for nature runs in our family, so pursuing aviation was a surprise for me as well as everyone else in my family,” admitted Saadat.
Journey towards acquiring wings
“As a child, I, like most other children, was fascinated with airplanes and would visit the cockpit every time we took a flight. The childhood fantasy faded away as I grew old, until one day when my uncle Dr. Raza Tehsin, referring to a newspaper article, told me to check out the courses offered in commercial airline flying. This news caught my attention and it eventually turned into an obsession until I achieved it,” answered Saadat.
When asked who or what his inspiration is, he says that his father is his biggest inspiration and has been the strongest support throughout his journey.
When asked if one needs any specific level of physical fitness to be able to apply for a degree in aviation, Saadat explained that one needs to pass a medical exam before any kind of flying license can be issued, and then to maintain the license, one has to go through these medical examinations every year subsequently. These tests could include basic heart function, blood work, color blindness etc.
Saadat got his Commercial Pilot License (CPL) from USA in record time of three months and twenty days and also recently got his certification in Aviation Management from the Embry Riddle University, Florida, USA. Usually the training takes a year and can go up to two years. Saadat acknowledges that the institute provided him with all the facilities to let him complete the CPL course in such a short period.
“I have my current license with ratings of Airbus 330, Airbus 350, Boeing 787 and Boeing 777. At present I am flying B777. These are all wide-body aircrafts,” explained Saadat.
When asked which machine has been the best experience for him, he mentioned, “All of them are amazing aircrafts but flying B777 has been a real joy. This airplane has the largest and the most powerful jet engines ever built. Normally the thrust of a jet engine is expressed in kilonewtons. If a kilonewton is roughly translated in Horse Power, then this engine produces about 52,000 Horse Power, and there are two of them on this l aircraft.”
“As an example, I would explain a typical flight pattern we have: The pilot starts from the Middle East, flying North over Levant and Europe, and lands in Madrid, Spain. The next day, he/she crosses the Atlantic Ocean to land in Mexico City, then flies into the United States and lands in Los Angeles, and from there flies into Hawaii. After staying a day in Hawaii, he/she crosses the Pacific Ocean to land in Melbourne, Australia. Then the pilot flies over the Java Sea to land in Bangkok, stay there for another day, and then cross the Bay of Bengal and Arabian Sea to get back to where he/she started from. In these few days the pilot has circled the entire planet and most likely experienced cold conditions with snow or ice covered runways, to hot regions with sandstorms, to heavy rains and tropical thunderstorms, to even volcanic activity sometimes! This kind of flying can be a challenge, but it is very rewarding,” Saadat replied candidly when asked about the challenges he faces while flying.
Hobbies and Interests
Saadat is a nature and wildlife enthusiast and he shares this passion with his entire Tehsin family. Wildlife photography, fishing and taking backpacking trips are a few of the recreational activities that Saadat takes keen interest in.
He delights in experimenting with food and always tries the local cuisines of the country he is in. This sometimes gets really adventurous, especially in parts of Southeast Asia and Far East where the local cuisine can vary from a mild Thai green curry with rice in Thailand, to fried Tarantula spiders in Cambodia, to live coconut worms squirming in your fish sauce in Vietnam.
Spear fishing is another adventure sport this young pilot has tried his hand at - he has a spine chilling experience to share with our readers where he found himself surrounded by 15 giant Manta Rays, each one up to 30 feet wide and weighing 1.5 tons, in the middle of vast ocean, in the Bali sea.
Saadat’s wife shares his interest in exploring different cultures. She works as the global diversity and inclusion HR at the Oxford University Press, UK.
For fellow Udaipurites who are aspiring to become pilots, Saadat’s advice is to conduct proper research before jumping into this career, especially on flying institutes. Selecting a good institute is crucial as it can considerably reduce the amount of time and money one spends on training.
Saadat ended this delightful interview with a powerful quote by Douglas Adams: ‘Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss.’
May you have the largest wing span with which you soar high and conquer the world of your dreams! With best wishes from Team Udaipur Times.