When JRD Tata Piloted The First Air India Flight, All He Carried Was…


When JRD Tata Piloted The First Air India Flight, All He Carried Was...

JRD Tata (L) piloted the first Air India flight in October 1932.

On this day in 1929, JRD Tata became the first Indian to receive a commercial pilot’s license – thereby setting in motion a chain of events that would lead to the creation of Air India. Seven decades later, as Air India returns to the Tata Group, a post shared on the Group’s Instagram remembers the father of Indian aviation and the role he played in Air India’s history.  

Air India, the airline which gave wings to the nation, was born of Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata’s love for aviation. Although the first Air India flight took off on October 15, 1932, its story actually dates back to 1929 – when JRD Tata received his pilot’s license.

“On February 10, 1929, JRD ‘Jeh’ Tata earned the first commercial aviator’s certificate in India, fulfilling a dream that he had nurtured since he was 15 and setting the stage for the much bigger dream of giving wings to the nation,” the Tata Group wrote on Instagram, sharing a black and white photo of JRD Tata.

JRD Tata was 24 when a flying club opened in Mumbai (then Bombay). He became the first Indian to pass out with ‘No. 1’ endorsed on his flying licence and, three years later, famously piloted the first flight in the history of Indian aviation. On October 15, 1932, the Air India flight (then known as Tata Air Services) took off from Karachi’s Drigh Road Aerodrome and flew to Mumbai’s Juhu Airstrip. 

“On an exciting October dawn in 1932, he soared into the sky from Karachi in a Puss Moth, flying towards Bombay at what was then a ‘dazzling 100 miles an hour’,” the Tata Group wrote on Instagram. “All he was armed with was a pair of goggles, his trusted slide rule that he always carried on flights, ‘a silent prayer’, and his little blue and gold aviator’s certificate that bore the Number 1.”

You can swipe right on the post below to see the certificate in question:

The post has racked up nearly 3,000 ‘likes’ on the photo-sharing platform.

Tata Group won a bid of Rs 18,000 crore to regain control of Air India nearly 70 years after its nationalisation. The takeover of the airline was completed on January 27.

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