Kathmandu: Anju Khatiwada, the co-pilot of the crashed Yeti Airlines aircraft, joined Nepal’s aviation sector after the death of her husband who was killed while flying a small passenger plane of the same domestic airline in 2006.
Nearly 16 years later, the 9N-ANC ATR-72 aircraft – co-piloted by Anju – crashed on the bank of the Seti River near Pokhara’s new airport on Sunday, with 72 people on board. Sixty-nine people were confirmed dead in Sunday’s crash while three others are still missing. Anju is believed to be among the victims.
Anju was married to co-pilot Deepak Pokharel, who used to fly helicopters of the Nepal Army. After a few years of their marriage, Deepak, who became a pilot of Yeti Airlines, died in a Twin-Otter crash in Jumla district in 2006.
She used the money she received as an insurance claim after her husband’s death to undertake an aviation course, according to Sudarsan Bartaula, a spokesperson of Yeti Airlines.
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Anju studied a pilot course in the US and joined the aviation industry.
She joined Yeti Airlines in 2010 and became a captain fulfilling her dream. But nearly 16 years after Deepak’s death, Anju seems to have lost her life as no survivors have been found so far after Sunday’s crash.
According to the airlines’ sources, Anju, who completed her school at St. Joseph’s School in Biratnagar, had flown 6,396 hours in Kathmandu, Bhadrapur, Biratnagar, Dhangadhi and other airports.
After the death of her son-in-law, Anju’s father wanted to send her to India to study, but she did not agree. Grieving the loss of her husband, she went to study a pilot course in the US.
In 2006, nine persons were killed after the Yeti Airlines plane crashed in a remote mountainous district of Western Nepal.
All nine people on board, including six passengers, two pilots and a flight attendant were killed when the Twin-Otter crash in Jumla district.