Lockdown was a peculiar time for many of us, we binge watched Tiger King, went on scheduled walks and queued for just about everything. For most people, it's a time we would rather forget, but for Abhilasha Dubey and her family, it's a timestamp for something incredible.
Abhilasha and her family built their very own Aeroplane during lockdown, with the vision of flying themselves to beautiful destinations and giving their daughters a truly wonderful childhood.
A remarkable woman, Abhilasha was kind enough to sit down with us and detail everything from plane building, to airport style!
Hey Abi, it’s lovely to meet you! We all tried our hand at new things during lockdown, be it baking banana bread or learning a new language, but I can’t say I know anyone who built a plane! What inspired your family to begin the project?
We were on a lookout for a 4 seater aircraft which was affordable yet modern and couldn’t find any that fit our mission. As brand new planes are very expensive and renting long term isn’t an option, we decided to go with building from a kit. The UK has a rich tradition of home built aircrafts and LAA (Light Aircraft Association) have been authorising builds for over 80 yrs, so there are stringent requirements to meet and rigorous testing procedures are followed prior to onboarding any passengers.
What is something that surprised you throughout the building process? Did you experience any challenges along the way?
I was surprised by the fact that if you follow a manual from a manufacturer, you can build/assemble anything. The biggest challenge was the lockdown and covid itself as there were significant shipping delays at the docks. The delivery of some parts or tail kits, wings etc didn’t arrive as early as we would have preferred due to social distancing measures but that gave us more time to save money to order the next kit for the next phase or focus on planning the build rather than rushing to finish the job.
Airport fashion has become a phenomenon in recent years, do you have any style advice for travelling?
I absolutely love travel trends that are safe to wear in a commercial aircraft as well as a private aeroplane. Nothing too baggy or elaborate as it's a safety hazard in case of an emergency landing. I would go for comfortable clothing that will look nice even after a long journey and avoid wearing neutrals or light colours as they can get dirty.
Any mother knows travelling with kids is never simple, do you find travelling less stressful with your own plane, or does it come with its own challenges?
I always say parenting is hard no matter where you are, so I'd rather do it with a view! Flying on our own does make things easier as we have no security queues at the airfield, we still need to clear customs and pay landing fees/ get our passport stamped but we don’t fly to busy commercial airports and even if we do the queue is separate for general aviation.
The challenge is the flight itself, so planning ahead. Make sure girls have gone to the toilet before take off and as soon as we land or stop over for a quick break when doing long journeys. We need to occupy them throughout the flight and they can feel nausea or sick if they are on tablets/ipads so keeping them busy whilst flying and making sure we can make radio calls with all the kids' noise in the background is the biggest challenge. The girls know they need to be quiet for landings and take offs as we contact the control tower, the more we fly these things will come naturally to them.
You’re a seasoned traveller, what are your must have items for travel?
I always carry a good backpack/ handbag like the Mini P as its’ ideal for journeys where passports, wallet and sunglasses can be stored without having to think about the essentials. Also comfortable shoes and lightweight holdall cases are a must.
A beautiful handbag is an essential while travelling. What is your favourite SH Handbag/ shade?
I am a big fan of Saran Haran’s handbags and the Mini P in emerald green is by far the best looking and easy to carry backpack I have ever owned! I mean you can land and go out to dinner carrying it as a handbag then whilst travelling take it as a backpack again, its just perfect.
How does your Sarah Haran bag fit into your life?
I was looking for a stylish, easy to grab bag especially for our family flights. It has big enough compartments for passport, wallet, paperwork, essentials and you can even carry a small water bottle.
Your style is so timeless and classy, what’s one item in your wardrobe you couldn’t live without?
Less is more for me when it comes to styling and I cannot live without a comfortable pair of trousers.
And finally, what inspires you most in life?
My parents made the most of their circumstances and always encouraged me and my brother to take up new hobbies even when I was studying at University and even now when I work full time in the city and learning to fly. The desire to find out how far I can go ? We learn something new everyday and I can pass that knowledge or experience to my daughters which will help them shape their future.