New Delhi: One exciting morning of October 15, 1932, a young JRD Tata, dressed in white pants and a short-sleeved shirt, armed only with a pair of glasses and a slide rule, punctually took off from Karachi in a single engine bound for Bombay. Puss Moth, carrying 25kg of airmail and the weight of history on his wings.
Tata, who was then only 28, landed on the mud flats of Juhu that day nearly 90 years ago, writing an aviation history for undivided India, which would also lay the groundwork for this which would later become the prestigious “Air India” carrier in 1946.
Yesterday marked the 89th anniversary of India’s historic first commercial flight and a week before, in a kind of homecoming for Air India, the over 150-year-old Tata Group brought the debt-laden airline back to its bosom, with the sel- to software conglomerate paying out a huge sum (Rs 18,000 crore).
The Tatas, the original owners of Air India, are also known to celebrate their legacy and iconic leaders who continue to inspire its employees and employees across the country and beyond, as well as the story of Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy. ‘Jeh’ Tata or JRD, as it has been affectionately addressed, finds pride of place in its central archives.
A long essay in the archives – “Wings For a Nation” – supplemented by old photographs, froze JRD’s feelings that day.
“On an exciting dawn in October 1932, a Puss Moth and I happily flew from Karachi with our first precious shipment of mail, on an inaugural flight to Bombay. As we hummed towards our destination at a ‘dazzling’ hundred miles an hour, I breathed a silent prayer for the success of our business and for the safety of those who worked there, ”he said.
When he landed in Bombay (now Mumbai), JRD did not take credit for this feat. Rather, he gave it to a clairvoyant Englishman – a former RAF (Royal Air Force) officer called Nevill Vintcent – who had previously proposed to JRD Tata a plan to create an airline, according to well-preserved records. of the society.
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The group had invested Rs 2 lakh at the time in 1932 to launch Tata Aviation Service, the forerunner of Tata Airlines and eventually Air India when Tata Airlines went public and became a joint stock company in 1946.
Tata Airlines, a division of Tata Sons, since its inception in the 1930s became Air India, one of the world’s most prestigious carriers, and Air India International in 1948.
“At the time, we were a small team. We shared successes and failures, joys and headaches, as together we built the business that was later to flourish in Air-India and Air-India International, ”said JRD, according to archives.
On the 89th anniversary, the Tata group recalled the first flight with a photo on Twitter.
“JRD ‘Jeh’ Tata fell in love with flying at the age of 15 and took India into the sky with him thirteen years later. #TDTY, he flew the inaugural flight of India’s first commercial airline on October 15, 1932, from Karachi to Bombay, ”he tweeted.
What started as a small airmail operation with two second-hand de Havilland Puss Moths was just the start of a sprawling era of aviation, he said.
In 1962, JRD ‘Jeh’ Tata recreated this first flight from Karachi to Bombay to commemorate his 30th birthday. And then again, in 1982, at the age of 78, he took to the skies in a 50-year-old De Havilland Leopard Moth to celebrate his Golden Jubilee, the group wrote on Twitter.
“Even today, as we remember this historic movement, we are filled with the adventurous spirit of JRD ‘Jeh’ Tata and his undying love for flying. #ThisIsTata, ”he said.
In 1953, when the then government of Jawaharlal Nehru nationalized Air India, JRD fought vehemently against it.
The Karachi-Bombay flight had flown over Ahmedabad, where it stopped for refueling, which was carried out by the company Burmah Shell.
Rajiv Soni, 68, former employee of Tata Steel and passionate about aviation heritage, said: “Air India is back to its roots, and I hope it will become a world-class airline again.”
Soni, who retired in 2013 as head of market communications and corporate branding, Tata Steel in Kolkata, said: “Air India was JRD’s ‘first love’ and on October 15, 1932, he wrote this story out of love for aviation. . “