As AirAsia unveils aircraft with JRD Tata livery, a look back at his life
Features Friday, March 27, 2015 - 05:30
Nitin B | The News Minute | March 21, 2015 | 6:00 pm IST AirAsia India, on Saturday, unveiled an aircraft with a special tribute to JRD Tata, the former chairman of the Tata sons and the founder of India's first airline, Tata Airlines. It was unveiled by GMR's aircraft maintenance, repair and overhaul unit near the Hyderabad airport at Shamshabad.¬† Titled "The Pioneer", the aircraft displays an image of JRD with a Puss Moth, the first plane that JRD used for his earliest flights.¬† The event saw Mittu Chandilya, the CEO of AirAsia India along with¬†Tony Fernandes, the group CEO,¬†Ramadorai, Non-Executive Chairman of AirAsia India and¬†Chairman Emeritus of the Tata group, Ratan Tata as chief invitees. (Image: The News Minute/Nitin B) "The Pioneer pays tribute to the man who pioneered aviation in India. AirAsia shares the same passion and zeal that Mr JRD Tata had towards setting up an airline in India and we will continue the legacy," said Tony Fernandes, CEO of Air Asia. He also spoke about taking JRD Tata's dream forward and making aviation cheaper and more available for all. "Flying should not be only for the rich. It should be affordable to everybody," he added. Launch of our new livery saw the biggest tribute to the pioneer of Indian aviation - The AirAsia Way. #PilotYourDream pic.twitter.com/hhQgmlHkkc √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ AirAsia India (@airasiain) March 21, 2015 "JRD Tata was a visionary. He established civil aviation in India and he believed that the country and its people must benefit from what the rest of the world did. I am happy that AirAsia is paying a tribute to him," said Ratan Tata. The successor to the conglomerate of companies after JRD Tata, Ratan Tata was also given an internal tour of the plane. Fun Onboard VT-JRT w/ @tonyfernandes @RNTata2000 Bharat Vasani, S Ramadorai & Aneesh Bhatia & our Engineering team pic.twitter.com/zZlzySG8EE √Ę‚ā¨‚ÄĚ Mittu Chandilya (@MittuChandilya) March 21, 2015 The Tatas had forged a joint venture with AirAsia last year.¬† (Image: The News Minute/Nitin B) Post by AirAsiaIndia. JRD Tata as an aviator "If you want excellence, you must aim at perfection. It has its¬†drawbacks but being finicky is essential." - JRD Tata Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, better known as JRD Tata was not only¬†an innovator who headed the largest industrial group in India for fivedecades, but also widely considered as an important figure in the¬†history of Indian civil Aviation. Born on 29 July 1904 in Paris, he would later become India's first¬†licensed pilot in 1929 where he recalled the excitement of seeing a¬†plane landing on Hardelot beach in France for the first time: "It was¬†flown by Adolphe Pegoud, the first man to loop-the-loop. From then onI was hopelessly hooked on aeroplanes and made up my mind that come¬†what may, one day, I would be a pilot," he said. Though JRD founded TCS, Tata Motors, Titan Industries, Tata Tea,¬†Voltas and Tata Airlines which later became Air India, his connectionwith flying went far deeper than just his business. In 1929, JRD renounced his French citizenship and became an Indian¬†citizen and was back in Bombay where India's first flying club was¬†taking its roots. Twelve days after the launch of the Aero Club of¬†India & Burma, JRD went on his first solo flight and then, on February¬†10, 1929 he got the first flying licence in the country. JRD had escaped death in a flying accident once during his younger¬†days but that did not deter him from his passion for flight andreplicated his solo flights again in 1962 and 1982. JRD's famous first commercial flight of Tata Aviation, which he flew¬†himself on October 15, 1932 from Karachi to Bombay is a remarkable¬†example of a businessman putting his own life on the line. "On an exciting October dawn in 1932, a Puss Moth and I soared¬†joyfully from Karachi with our first precious load of mail, on an¬†inaugural flight to Bombay. As we hummed towards our destination at a¬†dazzling hundred miles an hour, I breathed a silent prayer for the¬†success of our venture and for the safety of those who worked for it.¬†We were a small team in those days. We shared successes and failures,¬†the joys and headaches, as together we built up the enterprise which¬†later was to blossom into Air-India and Air-India International," JRD¬†recalled later. (JRD poses after re-enacting his path breaking flight on 50th Anniversary of Air India. Image: Team BHP)¬† When he landed on the Juhu mud flats that October day in 1932, India's¬†first air service was inaugurated. He did not take the credit for itand gave it to an Englishman called Nevill Vintcent, who was a good¬†friend. Nevill Vintcent offered J. R. D. Tata a project to start an airline¬†which was accepted by then chairman, Sir Dorab Tata with an initial¬†investment of Rs. 200,000. "We had no aids whatsoever on the ground or in the air," JRD recalled,¬†"no radio, no navigational or landing guides of any kind. In fact wedid not even have an aerodrome in Bombay. We used a mud flat at Juhu.¬†The sea was below what we called our airfield, and during the monsoon¬†the runway was below the sea! So we had to pack up each year, lock,¬†stock and barrel - two planes, three pilots and three mechanics, and¬†transfer ourselves to Poona (Pune) where we were allowed to use a¬†maidan as an aerodrome, appropriately under the shadow of the Yeravada¬†Jail!" he was quoted as saying. In 1948, JRD Tata launched Air India International as India's first¬†international airline. In 1953, the Indian Government appointed JRDTata as Chairman of Air India and a director on the Board of Indian¬†Airlines - a position he retained for 25 years. Under his chairmanship, the assets of the Tata Group grew from US$100¬†million to over US$5 billion. He started with 14 enterprises and fivedecades later on 26 July 1988, left Tata & Sons with a conglomerate of¬†95 enterprises. (JRD disembarks an Air India plane with air hostesses in the background. Image: business.outlook)¬† JRD Tata received a number of awards during his lifespan. He was¬†conferred the honorary rank of Group Captain by the Indian Air Forcein 1948 and promoted to the Air Commodore rank before being further¬†promoted on 1 April 1974 to the Air Vice Marshal rank. He also received several international awards for aviation like The¬†Tony Jannus Award in March 1979, the Gold Air Medal of the FederationAeronautique Internationale in 1995, the Edward Warner Award of the¬†International Civil Aviation Organisation, Canada in 1986 and theDaniel Guggenheim Award in 1988. The French Legion of Honour was bestowed on him in 1983. In 1992, JRD¬†Tata was awarded India's highest civilian honour, the Bharat Ratna for¬†his selfless humanitarian endeavours. (JRD being conferred with the Bharat Ratna by¬†President R.Venkataraman. Image -¬†Mahesh Shankar) He died in Geneva, Switzerland on 29 November 1993 of a kidney¬†Infection. He was 89. On his death, the Indian Parliament was adjourned in his memory - a¬†rare honour usually not given to people who are not members of theparliament. He was then buried at the P√É¬®re Lachaise Cemetry in France. Tweet Follow @thenewsminute
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