Sunday, October 17, 2021

Historic JRD flight partly recreated, young female pilot flies solo from Bhuj to Juhu

Mumbai: JRD Tata’s historic flight carrying airmail from Karachi to Bombay on October 15, 1932, which marked the birth of commercial air transport in India was recreated on Friday. Given the political tensions with the neighbour though, the solo flight tracking the route that JRD Tata flew took off from Bhuj airport instead.

With this, the recreation of Tata’s historic flight was interwoven with another piece of Indian aviation history, one that took place on the IAF Bhuj airstrip during the 1971 Indo-Pakistan war. Pakistani airstrikes had destroyed the airstrip with incessant bombings, leaving IAF fighter planes at Bhuj with no runway to take off from. Under the leadership of IAF squadron leader Vijay Karnik, the airstrip was reconstructed within 72 hours of the bombings, by about 300 villagers, largely women from the neighbouring Madhapar village.

Thirty-nine years earlier, Tata Airlines’ inaugural flight was operated by JRD who flew solo, tracking an 850km-long circuitous route from Karachi to Bombay-Juhu via Ahmedabad on a single-engine De Havilland Puss Moth aircraft, carrying 25kg of mail for the Indian Postal Service. In 1962, JRD Tata flew the historic route again to commemorate 30 years commercial aviation in India. He flew another vintage aircraft, refurbished in 1982, when the then 78-year old JRD once again re-enacted the flight, this time to celebrate Air India’s 50th anniversary.

On Friday, the recreation solo flight was operated by 23-year old Aarohi Pandit, the first woman to fly solo across both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. "We're happy and proud to be associated with the re-enactment of the first flight which marked the beginning of civil aviation in India," said Michael P Mascarenhas, chairman, JRD Tata Memorial Trust.

17/10/21 Times of India

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