Mrunal Manmay Dash

Former Odisha Chief Minister Biju Patnaik’s iconic Dakota aircraft which was brought from Kolkata on Friday will be installed and displayed for public at the Biju Patnaik International Airport (BPIA) from March 5, which is celebrated in Odisha as Biju Jayanti & the Panchayatiraj Diwas.

As per reports, the State government has planned to display the aircraft to public from on March 5 as an ode to the late Chief Minister Biju Patnaik as the day marks his birth anniversary.

The contract of repair and installation of the Dakota has been awarded to Bhubaneswar-based Aerospace Research and Development Center at a cost of Rs 3 crore. The agency will repair and reassemble its fuselage, wings and engine before installing it at the airport.

Sources said the agency has already begun working on the body dents.

Speaking on the development, BPIA Director, Prasanna Pradhan said, “The repair works are going on at the State government hangar inside the airport. After all the repairs, they will bring it to the allotted space at the airport and reassemble it before putting it on a pedestal for display.”

Meanwhile, after the return of the Dakota, former pilot and historian Anil Dhir shared some interesting anecdotes and facts about this particular aircraft and its association with Biju Patnaik.

As per Dhir, this particular aircraft was never owned by Patnaik, it was actually a lease. It was originally manufactured for the US Air Force in 1944. Later it was handed over to the Royal Indian Air Force. Finally, it was taken on lease by Biju Patnaik for his aviation company, Kalinga Airlines. Patnaik himself flew this Dakota for over 27 months, Dhir said.

“It is a proud moment for Odisha that an 86-year-old heritage aircraft has finally been brought here after it was biting dust at Kolkata airport for 55 years. There are almost no airports in the world which has such an aircraft for public display,” Dhir said.

(Reported By Kapilendra Pradhan, OTV)