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Fleeting Wonders: Longest-Ever Flight With All-Female Crew

Almost every Indian woman pilot will be in the sky today.

Today, for International Women’s Day, countries and companies worldwide are marching, tweeting, and CMS-editing for gender parity. But Air India has taken their celebration to new heights—they’re operating a series of all-women flights, starting with what they’re calling the longest in history.

Flight AI173 took off from New Delhi at 2:35 pm. Seventeen hours and about 9,000 miles later, it landed in San Francisco to passenger applause, Harpreet De Singh, the airline’s chief of flight safety, told Public Radio International.

“This flight is a symbol that every single male-dominated function can be carried out by women safely and efficiently,” Singh said. Besides the cockpit and cabin crew, “we had a lady dispatcher, we had a lady doctor, we had the radio operator on VHF, we had the ops control people who were ladies… I myself did the safety audit.”

All-women flights have become more common in recent years, partly thanks to Women of Aviation Worldwide Week, an awareness initiative started in 2011 by Mireille Goyer, a pilot frustrated with sexism in the sky. Last November, Ethiopian Airlines flew a women-crewed plane from Addis Ababa to Bangkok. This past Monday, an all-female team landed an Air Canada flight.

Today, Air India will fly 22 other all-women flights–including one back to New Delhi from San Francisco, turning a record into a repeat occurrence. “Almost every Indian woman pilot will be in the sky,” Singh said.

Every day, we track down a fleeting wonder—something amazing that’s only happening right now. Have a tip for us? Tell us about it! Send your temporary miracles to cara@atlasobscura.com.