The iconic Dakota aircraft in which Biju Patnaik rescued Indonesia’s former vice-president and prime minister in his famous heroic act in 1947 would make its way to Odisha soon.
Sources said that talks are underway with the Netaji Subhas Bose International Airport authorities in Kolkata to bring the aircraft to Odisha to park it near the Biju Patnaik Museum at Anand Bhawan in Cuttack, the ancestral home of Patnaik.
The Dakota, one of the sturdiest aircrafts, has gone to seed and has been lying neglected as a piece of scrap in an abandoned corner of Netaji Subhas Bose International Airport, Kolkata.
“Certainly it is the most prized possession of former chief minister Biju Patnaik and also has importance for the people of Odisha. It will be a fitting tribute to the expert pilot and his machine if the aircraft will be brought back to the state and placed at the Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneswar as a state treasure,” said researcher Anil Dhir, who located and identified the plane at Kolkata airport around five years back and since been trying to bring it to Odisha.
“I have written to the chief minister and Biju Patnaik’s son Naveen Patnaik to bring it back about a couple of years back. It has been a collaborative effort by other friends who pursued the matter with the Airport Authority of India (AAI) and finally the state government agreed in the proposal,” Dhir added.
The aircraft was a part of the fleet of 18 Dakota planes of Kalinga Airlines used in the Kashmir operation in 1947-48 ferrying troops to Srinagar and carrying medical assistance and other supplies. Of the 18 aircrafts, around 12 were crashed, whereabouts of three are not known and of the rest three one is at Mumbai Airport, one is in Indonesia and one is at Kolkata airport, Dhir said.
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