Thursday, July 12, 2018

The Untold Story of the First Indian Pilot, Purushottam Meghji Kabali

In the early 1930s, airlines had started expanding their markets globally. Although the aircraft back then were much more compact and could only fly small distances at a time, airline manufacturers and pilots were witnessing a steady growth in new records set in aviation. Pilots across the globe were crossing longer distances, breaking speed records as new airways industries were entering the market. At the same time, in 1930, an Indian, Purushottam Meghji Kabali had also entered the industry. PM Kabali is considered to be the first Indian pilot although JRD Tata obtained his license one year before Kabali.

In the year 1930, Kabali purchased a Spartan VT-AAT aircraft in England. He planned to fly it from Croydon, in England, through Paris, Rome, Iran, and land in Karachi. After take-off, the aircraft functioned beautifully, and Kabali hardly had any issues as he crossed Paris, Marseilles, Pisa, Rome and Tunis. It was in Tripoli (Libya) that he had to cut his journey short.

The crashed “Feather of the Dawn” was loaded on a truck. From Libya, the damaged aircraft was transported to the Bombay Flying Club in parts.  After “Feather of the Dawn” was repaired, he flew it and remarked that the “plane flew beautifully”.

In the coming years, PM Kabali became a pilot for “Air Services of India Ltd”, a private airline based in Juhu, Mumbai. This company merged into the Indian Airline Corporation in 1953.
11/07/18 Tanvi Patel/Better India

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