Anju Khatiwada was a pilot who joined Nepal’s Yeti Airlines in 2010, following in the footsteps of her husband, Dipak Pokhrel. Sadly, Dipak had perished in a crash four years earlier while flying a small passenger plane for the domestic carrier.
Tragically, Anju met the same fate on Sunday when she was the co-pilot on a Yeti Airlines flight from Kathmandu to Pokhara. The ATR-72 aircraft rolled from side to side before crashing in a gorge near Pokhara airport and catching fire, resulting in the death of 68 people in Nepal’s deadliest plane accident in three decades. Anju is feared dead and her remains have not been identified.
A pilot with more than 6,400 hours of flying time, Anju had previously flown the popular tourist route from the capital, Kathmandu, to the country’s second-largest city, Pokhara. An Yeti Airlines official, who knew Anju personally, said that she was always willing to take up any duty and had flown to Pokhara earlier. The cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder from the aircraft were recovered on Monday which may help investigators determine what caused it to crash in clear weather.
Nearly 350 people have died since 2000 in plane or helicopter crashes in Nepal – home to eight of the world’s 14 highest mountains, including Everest – where sudden weather changes can make for hazardous conditions.
Anju and her husband had the same dream of being pilots and the same tragic end. It is a reminder of how quickly life can be taken away and how important it is to cherish and make the most of our time with our loved ones. The lives of those who perished in this incident will be remembered and their families will be in our thoughts and prayers.