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First Turbaned Sikh Pilot In America

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First Turbaned Sikh Pilot in America

San Antonio, Texas – In March 2008, Arpinder Kaur , 28, was hired by American Airlines Corporation (AMR) as a First Officer. Kaur flies Embraer Jets for American Eagle, a regional airline that is part of AMR and she is now based out of the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport . The Sikh Research Institute is proud to share the news that Kaur is now the first turbaned Sikh pilot to fly for a commercial airline in the United States . "Two of the reasons I did this were: first, my love of flying and, second, to set a precedent for the community so they know you can be in your Sikh appearance and do anything out there; so that my younger brothers and sisters [the rising generation] will pursue their passions while practicing their Sikh faith," Kaur said.

Kaur said that she knew she wanted to be a pilot the very first time she was in an airplane. She was 14 and moving from the Panjab (since 1947 the region is divided between India and Pakistan ) to the United States . The crew let her sit in the cockpit and see everything that they did. "That is the day I found in me this passion for flying," Kaur said.

She lived in Virginia after the move and attended George Mason University (VA) where she graduated with a degree in information systems. She did not forget her dream of flying over the years, though her mother told her that girls should not be pilots because it was too dangerous.

Kaur said it was the love and support of her husband, Pritpal Singh that pushed her forward on the path toward becoming a pilot. Kulbir Singh Sandhu, captain with AMR mentored her throughout her aviation career. From 2003 to 2005 Kaur was trained by Jesse Sherwood in Kansas . "I had the passion for flying but he [sherwood] really instilled the professionalism of flying through the time I was training with him," Kaur said.

In 2005, Kaur moved to San Antonio and spent two more years as a flight instructor at Wright Flyers Aviation at the San Antonio International Airport . In January of 2008 she applied to be a pilot at American Airlines; her application was accepted in March and from 17 March through 7 June 2008, she underwent their pilot training program.

Kaur said that she just recently resolved the issue of her flying turbaned – the American Airlines manual allows "regulation approved hats" – by filling out an Accommodation Form. Kaur received help from The Sikh Coalition (SC), while she was planning the best way to secure an accommodation agreement about her turban. Harsimran Kaur, a staff attorney who consulted with Kaur said that, "the Sikh Coalition appreciates American Eagle's willingness to accommodate Ms. Kaur's religiously- mandated turban consistent with state and federal anti-discrimination law."

Harinder Singh, executive director of the Sikh Research Institute (SikhRI) in San Antonio , Texas said, "This is a great day for the Sikhs in America . Religious accommodation, not assimilation, is what the founders of this great nation envisioned and we are thrilled American Airlines celebrates the rich religious and cultural diversity of all American populations." SikhRI helped Arpinder through the process of becoming a pilot through the use of educational and community building tools. SikhRI facilitates Sikh-Americans in integrating the Sikh Ideals with American values.

Contact Person: Harinder Singh

info@sikhri. org

Video about Bhenji Arpinder Kaur Ji:

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