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EAA Member Hopes to Host Chapter Meetings in India

Veena Pillai
Veena Pillai, from India, is completing her flight instructor training in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She attended the fall EAA Chapter Leadership Academy in Oshkosh in hopes of someday starting an EAA Chapter in India when she returns.

Veena Pillai
Veena and her mother, Sarojini Pallai, at the fall EAA Chapter Leadership Academy. Veena says her motherís support has been a paramount in her lifeís pursuits. All photos by Jim Koepnick

September 30, 2010 —  At last month’s EAA Chapter Leadership Academy in Oshkosh (September 2010), a quick scan of the seating markers featured chapter members from Illinois, Texas, California, and India. The last place of residence listed is not a misprint, but the home country of Veena Pillai, EAA, 1014639, who has traveled to the United States to complete her advanced flight training. Veena began flying in college when she joined the Indian National Cadet Corps, No. 2 Bengal Air Squadron, which offered gliding and parasailing training as part of its program to interest youth in aviation, an interest she hopes will help her accomplish one of her aviation goals: to start an EAA chapter in India.

Aviation was already one of Veena’s favorite subjects and while in the NCC she was awarded a Defence Ministry of India scholarship to begin her initial flight training. With the support of her family she moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan, where she began her US flight training and has completed private, instrument, commercial, and multi-engine ratings, and advanced ground instructor ratings.

“No one in my family is involved in aviation, but my mother has been very supportive because she says that if you are interested and believe in it, anything is possible,” Pillai said. “Her support has been paramount in my life. It’s very important to honor our parents.”

Her mother, Sarojini Pillai, believes so much in Veena that she accompanied her to the US and attended all the chapter leadership sessions with Veena as well as AirVenture 2010. Currently, Veena is finishing up her certified flight instructor training. She eventually wants to fly for an airline in India, where she says there is a need for pilots. Her other goals closely align with EAA members from around the world as she hopes to promote and teach aviation whenever she can. Veena hopes to begin in India by eventually starting the first EAA chapter in the country. She got a jumpstart on that effort during AirVenture when she enrolled her brother Harikumar Pillai, EAA 1036604, as an EAA member.

“Last year was the first time that I had visited Oshkosh and it was a wonderful experience for me. I was able to stay for a couple of days and I felt happy to be a part of it. It was admirable that volunteers  helped to organize this magnificent show of  aviation. I believe Oshkosh is more than an event, it is a feeling.” Pillai said.

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