After sealing the $12-billion jumbo deal to buy Anglo-Dutch steel-maker Corus, Tata group chairman Ratan Tata is set to pull off another coup by flying a fighter jet at the Aero India Show in Bangalore from February 7-11.
The 69-year-old trained pilot will fly Lockheed Martin’s F-16 multi-role combat aircraft during the show that the Bethesda, Maryland-based defence and aerospace major will feature. It proposes to sell 126 of them to the Indian Air Force.
“Lockheed Martin officials are handling this matter. The finer details of when, where and what are being finalised,” a Tata official said, confirming the proposed sortie on an F-16 by the group’s chairman who enjoys flying.
“I don’t get much spare time, but what little spare time I have is spent flying. I am a trained pilot for both planes and helicopters,” Tata has been quoted as saying in an interview posted on the group’s website.
But that was some six years ago when the pace of activities at Tata Sons was not the same as today. And the “shy architect from Cornell”, as Tata is sometimes described, enjoyed flying the much-slower choppers more.
“If I got a chance to fly the F-18, I’d seriously consider it,” Tata said in another interview a few years later. He also had a “terrific” experience when he travelled at supersonic speeds on Dassault’s Mirage jet from France to the United States.
And that chance will come this week when Tata, who made his first solo flight at the age of 17, enters the cockpit of an F-16.