Air India is poised to re-enact the first airmail flight from Karachi to Mumbai flown by JRD Tata on October 17, 1932 in a Puss Moth with a fuel stopover at Ahmedabad.
The national carrier wants to do it in 2017 on the 85th anniversary of the flight that launched TATA Airlines, which later became Air India. The re-enactment will be in a Leopard Moth, the plane JRD flew on the first flight’s 30th anniversary in 1962 and again on its 50th in 1982.
After the flight in 1982, the aircraft has been displayed at the Aero Club of India.
The plan to pull it out of the club and fly it again has been drawn up at a time the airline is headed by CMD Ashwani Lohani. In an earlier stint with the Indian Railways, Lohani executed a number of heritage projects, including running the Fairy Queen Express hauled by the oldest steam locomotive in the world. The feat earned a place in the Guinness Book of Records.
“We dream to re-create a historic event,” said Lohani.
On the 1982 flight, JRD Tata had carried a mail bag with messages from the president of Pakistan to the president of India, and from the mayor of Karachi to the mayor of Mumbai.
Air India has the support of the Aero Club, the apex body for aero-sport activities in the country. “It’s a great idea. I want to discuss it with Air India and make it happen. It will happen,” said Captain Satish Sharma, the club’s president.
Air India has sought advice of the Indian Air Force’s chief adviser for vintage aircraft projects, the UK-based Capt Mike Edwards, MBE, to restore the Leopard Moth to flying condition.