Naveen to Unveil Dakota Aircraft Tomorrow
Bhubaneswar: The wait to get a glimpse of the iconic Dakota aircraft of former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik will finally be over. The reassembled plane will be unveiled for public display at Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) by Patnaik’s son and incumbent Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik at 9.25 am on March 5, on the occasion of the ace pilot’s birth anniversary.
“It is a matter of pride for the Odisha government to unveil the Dakota DC-3 aircraft which was relocated from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata to Biju Patnaik International Airport. Public display of the aircraft will serve as an embodiment of the former Chief Minister’s courage and adventurism, and inspire people of Odisha to dream big,” a release by the Commerce and Transport
On January 18, the aircraft had reached the state from the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata. A 10-member team of Aerospace Research Development had taken 12 days to dismantle the aircraft and pack its equipment.
While the Dakota was earlier lying decrepit at the Kolkata Airport, the aircraft was reassembled and renovated afterreaching the Bhubaneswar Airport. Notably, the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had allotted 1.1 acre of land for the aircraft to be placed in front of the airport named after the legendary leader for display of the DC-3 aircraft. A memorial will be built for this purpose.
Biju Patnaik, a skilled pilot, had used a Dakota aircraft to rescue erstwhile Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir in 1947. For his daredevilry, the Indonesian government had twice decorated Biju Patnaik with Bhumiputra – the highest civilian award of the country.
Before joining politics, he had floated Kalinga Airlines which had a fleet of 15 Dakotas. The company had its headquarter in Kolkata. The airlines used to offer services to the Army for transporting jawans and airdropping supplies.