Tell us about you and your family.
Hi, my name is Shital Mahajan I am a professional skydiver. In 2006, I received the first National award in adventure sports, the ‘Tensing Norgay National Adventure Award’. In 2011, I received India’s fourth-highest civilian National award, ‘Padma Shri’.
In 2018, I received the first International medal, ‘Sabiha Goksen Gold Medal’ from FAI – Federation of Aeronautical International. I became the first Indian woman to get this medal in the history of skydiving sport in India.
My father retired from Tata motors and my mother is a housewife. I am married to a Finland based NRI Mr Vaibhav Rane. He works in Nordic countries renowned Bank. My husband is also a skydiver and we are the first Indian civilian skydiving couple who have skydiving licenses. I have twin boys, Vaishnav and Vrushabh. They are 11 years old and studying in Finland. They are the youngest twins of India who have done tandem skydiving.
What was the most challenging part of your journey till now? How did you overcome those challenges?
In my skydiving journey, I have been through many hurdles.
During organizing the North Pole expedition, I learnt that if you believe you can fly, you really can fly; just keep your focus on your goal. I did the first parachute jump of my life without any training over the geographical North Pole in minus 38 degree Celsius and from 2400 ft on 18 April 2004. That day, my dream of flying like a bird came true. I became the first woman in the world to skydive over the North Pole without any training.
After finishing the North Pole expedition, the government and people rejected to accept the record but I only knew one thing, “Tomorrow is my exam but I don’t care because a single sheet of paper can’t decide my future” (Thomas Alva Edison).
In 2006, on August 29, after one and half year’s hard work, I got my first National recognition by receiving ‘Tenzing Norgay National Adventure Award’ by then President of India, A. P. J. Abdul Kalam. After that, I planned for another expedition of skydiving over the South Pole. I went through many hurdles and politics during the South Pole expedition as well. I worked hard but failed. In December, 2006, I organized the Antarctica expedition again and succeeded. I became the first woman in the world to perform Second parachute jump and First free fall jump of life over Antarctica.
As of now, I have achieved 18 National and 6 World records.
What has been the most transformational moment for you in your journey?
The period between the birth of my boys in 2009 until they started going to
school that was the transformational period of life. Once they got busy with school, I got time for myself and my sport.
Favourite food : Pani puri and Ghee Mysore Pak
Favourite book : The Keys to Success by Jim Rohn
Favourite holiday destination : Jungles of Finland
The ideal person : I believe that no one is perfect. I try to learn whatever I can from everyone.
Your Strength : My Father and Mother
Favourite sport : Skydiving
Your message for women or those aspiring to be something different.
Have a dream or goal. Be creative to chase that dream. Take risks and create your path. Be ready for the challenges if you wish to climb towards success. Most importantly, when you reach your destination, don’t forget to look back to help others to rise with you. Always give back to society.
One sentence that defines you.
I never forget my roots and I am grateful to all those who trusted me and my dreams.