Sunday, February 13, 2022

JRD Tata was the first pilot of Air India, took charge of the cockpit in 1932

Jehangir RD Tata's love for flying and airlines is an open secret. But the connection between his pilot's licence and Air India's first flight dates back to 1929.

Ever since he was 5, industrialist Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata's son, fondly referred to as 'Jeh', was mesmerised by the charm of aeroplanes. During his summer vacations in Northern France, he would keenly watch his hero, Louis Bleriot's chief pilot Adolph Pegoud, land a plane on the beach. Bleriot was the first man to fly across the English Channel in 1909.

By the time he was 15, he had made up his mind. He wanted to become a pilot and make a career in aviation. But he had to wait for nine-long years before he was able to fulfil his dream. A flying club opened in Bombay, and the then 24-year-old rushed to get his flying licence.

While there were many others who managed to get the registration done before him, Jeh was the first one to pass the flying test. It was on February 10, 1929, (93 years ago) when the young Jeh received his commercial aviator's certificate which bore the 'No. 1' tag.

It was the same year, he decided to breathe life into the nation's aviation industry and introduced to the world India’s first airline company - Air India (which was previously known as Tata Air Service).

With the help of his aviator licence, Jeh took charge of Air India's cockpit and decided to pilot the inaugural flight on October 15, 1932. "He (Jeh) soared into the sky from Karachi in a Puss Moth, towards Bombay at a 'dazzling 100 miles an hour'," the official Twitter handle of Tata Group shared on Thursday.

For the inaugural flight, the then Tata Group head wore a pair of goggles, and carried his blue-gold aviator’s certificate with 'a silent prayer' at heart.

11/02/22 Economic Times

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