Odisha writes to AAI to bring back Biju Patnaik’s Dakota aircraft

Bhubaneswar: Initiating steps to bring back abandoned Dakota aircraft, which was flown by late Chief Minister Biju Patnaik, Odisha government has written a letter to the Airports Authority of India (AAI) requesting the latter to hand over the aircraft to state.

Odisha government is pleased to take over the Dakota (VT-AUI) aircraft belonging to the erstwhile Kalinga Airlines, which was founded by late Biju Patnaik, the Commerce & Transport Department said in a letter dated January 21.

As per the decision by the state government, the aircraft, which has been stationed at Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata since 1947, will be brought back and will be displayed at Bhubaneswar Airport as a befitting tribute to the legendary leader.

In the letter, Commerce & Transport authorities urged the AAI to grant necessary permission to hand over the Dakota aircraft to Odisha government.

Last week, State Transport Special Secretary Manoj Mishra had informed media about the government’s move to bring back Dakota to Odisha.

Earlier, the state government was planning to bring the aircraft and park it in front of Anand Bhavan, the ancestral house of Biju Patnaik at Tulsipur in Cuttack, for public view.

Biju Patnaik, who was known for his daredevilry act as a pilot, had formed the Kalinga Airline in 1947. The airline had 15 Dakota planes parked at its headquarters in Kolkata. The aircrafts were chiefly used by the army for transport of jawans deployed in Kashmir. Kalinga Airline’s DC-3s were also used to drop supplies at north-eastern area of the country and providing services to the army personnel in north-east area of the country.

Patnaik came to limelight after he rescued former Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir from their enemies on July 22, 1947. He was credited with making the landing at Srinagar on Oct 27 in the year.

Later, the Indonesia government acknowledged his contribution by honouring Biju Babu with ‘Bhumi Putra’ title for his chivalry.

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