Chronicler of aviation memories gears up for take-off | india | Hindustan Times
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Chronicler of aviation memories gears up for take-off

As the 21-seater Douglas DC 3 taxied in with a few first-time fliers to India on board, tiny droplets of rain crept stealthily into the cockpit.

india Updated: Jul 27, 2009 01:24 IST
Soubhik Mitra

Circa 1950 at the airstrip of Santacruz airport.

As the 21-seater Douglas DC 3 taxied in with a few first-time fliers to India on board, tiny droplets of rain crept stealthily into the cockpit.

“We used to wear aprons to stay dry,” is what P.N. Reddy, Indian Airlines’ pilot of the 1950s said about it.

Reddy (82) will be sharing such experiences among other anecdotes in a book on the history of Bombay aviation which is in the making.

Heritage photographer-cum-author Anuradha Reddy is digging into the city’s aviation archives. Reddy plans to compile a book that captures glorious stories of how aviation took off in the city.

The book is open to anybody who has experiences to narrate about the city’s flying days. “I am here to welcome people help me chronicle the history of aviation in a city that played a pivotal role in making flying popular,” said the 62-year-old from Hyderabad.

As in infant, she had flown to Hyderabad for a 1 rupee and 8 annas when the Mumbai airport comprised of just two hangars. “The ticket [for an adult flier] cost Rs 50,” she reminisced.

One just needs to flip pages of her research material to take a trip down memory lane.

The Bombay Flying Club set up at the Juhu aerodrome — it was then known as the Juhu Airpark — used to buzz with air races every weekend. Many flying enthusiasts like J.R.D. Tata would spend weekends racing at the flying club.
“Hobby flying has deteriorated,” said Mihir Deepak Bhagwati, president of the club.

Bhagwati will also be contributing to the book. “It was the first flying club where hundreds of licences were issued.”
Photographs of flying licences issued in the 1920s are likely to be part of the book. These include flying licences of J.R.D. Tata’s sisters, Sylla Petit and Rodabeh Tata. The licences were issued in the late 1920s.

The book will also chronicle the history of Air India and Indian Airlines, which were created after the government nationalised aviation in the early fifties.