JRD Tata, who zealously believed in the value of time, once forgot his alarm clock but mosquitoes made his job easy to keep the doyen of Indian Civil Aviation's pioneering flight on course on this day 68 years back.
"I forgot to bring an alarm clock to wake me up to continue the flight to Madras (now Chennai) but the mosquitoes made the job easy," Tata, a stickler for punctuality, had said.
October 15 is considered the birth anniversary of the country's Civil Aviation sector since it was on this day in 1932 when 28-year-old Tata had flown his aircraft from Karachi to Madras as a connecting flight service to London–Karachi segment operated by erstwhile Imperial Airways via Basra and Cairo.
The Tata flight marked the commencement of commercial internal air transport in the Indian subcontinent.
The House of Tatas or Tata Sons Limited began Karachi–Ahmedabad-Bombay-Bellary-Madras mail services on October 15, 1932 carrying mail bags which had left London a week before.
The service was operated by deHavilland Puss moth VT-AND aircraft flown by Tata from Karachi to Bombay and piloted by Neville Vincent from Bombay to Madras. The service arrived at Madras on October 17 after a stop over at Bellary the previous night.
The young Tata had to persuade his parents and uncles to invest Rs one lakh on air services from corporate funds.
On another occasion, Tata while alighting from a flight at Croydon Airport (the erstwhile name of Heathrow Airport of London) quipped, "Boys set your watch right. It is 08-00 AM now".
That was on June 8, 1948 when the company turned out to be an international airliner by operating a flight from Bombay to London via Cairo and Geneva. This was the beginning of Air
India International, a future carrier of the Indian tricolour.
Appropriately, the services of the Tata Sons Limited were pioneered by the young Tata who was the first Indian to get a pilot license.
Till 1935 February 25, Tata Sons had to include Bellary an obscure town, on account of the demand by the then Nizam of Hyderabad who demanded a heavy amount from the company to allow the aircraft to land at Hyderabad.
The Centre nationalized the airlines operations on August one, 1953 marking the birth of Indian Airlines Corporation and Air-India International Limited for domestic services and global operations respectively.
The passion for flying did not die for JRD even at the age of 78 when he re-enacted the historic 1932 flight on its golden jubilee in 1982, himself flying a refurbished Vintage Aircraft from Karachi to Bombay.
When asked "How dare you did it at this age?" at the Juhu Airport in Bombay, pat came the reply "Don't I look young?".