Put Dakota on display in airport, not museum: Researcher to Odisha CM

Bhubaneswar: While the Odisha government has stepped up efforts to bring back the Old Dakota aircraft lying at the Kolkata Airport, an eminent historian and researcher has urged Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik to put the carrier on display in Bhubaneswar airport instead of Cuttack.

The state government had planned to keep the Old Dakota at Anand Bhawan, the house of Biju Patnaik now turned into a museum, in Cuttack.

However, the researcher Anil Dhir has written to Naveen Patnaik for shifting its proposed location.

“I am writing to you with the earnest request that the Dakota should be got to Bhubaneswar and should be suitably parked in front of the Biju Patnaik International Airport instead of Cuttack. The right place for an aircraft is an airport, just as the correct place for an old Railway Engine is outside a Railway Station. Please understand that there are very few Dakotas on display in the world. Most of them are in air museums that are attached to airports nearby. Nearly 35 of them are displayed outside prominent airports all over the world, mostly in the United States of America,” Dhir wrote in the letter.

If the Dakota is kept at a suitable place outside the Biju Patnaik International Airport, nearly 20,000 visitors will see this great relic of bygone days each day, and realise Biju Babu’s contribution for the aviation history of the nation. At the Cuttack museum, there will not be that many visitors in a whole year. Please note that no other airport in the country has a Dakota parked in its façade. It will be a suitable and fitting tribute to our legendary aviator Biju Babu, to have an aircraft that he had piloted kept outside an airport named after him, Dhir added.

Worth mentioning, the Dakotas had many affectionate nicknames. The Americans called it the Gooney Bird, Old Fatso, Skytrooper, Placid Plodder, Dizzy Three and Tabby. While the British airmen called it the “Dak”, the Royal Canadian Air Force called them “The Flying Elephants.” The French called it, “The Beast.” Biju Babu, like many other pilots, used the term “Gooney Bird”.

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