• ArunKumar

How aviation took off in India - A complete Indian Aviation History

Updated: Dec 10, 2021

We all know how aviation started right on the 17th of February 1903 Orville and Wilbur Wright brothers did the first-ever flight on a very small aircraft which was made out of wooden cloth and this was done in Kitty Hawk in the USA.

However, aviation in India did not start for the next 8 years;

the first light in India happened 0n the 17th of February 1911.

It was not done by an Indian, it was a 23 years old french pilot and his name was Henry pk

He flew a very small Humber biplane that had a 50 horsepower engine and this was India’s first-ever flight. It was done from Allahabad to Naini station. A distance of about 10 KM and it took the aircraft 13 minutes to cover that distance.

Now this flight was a passenger flight, it was a male flight so he was carrying about 6500 postcards and a few letters there was no fanfare when he landed at any junction and there was no one to receive him there except the postman and he just handed over the back to the postman filled up with the mail.

Next two decades such flights became so common that airplanes were initially mostly used to transport letters and mail. There was no defined timetable for these flights and we even had a few international airmail flights but during this time a few things happened which laid the foundation for aviation as we know it in India today.

The first airports to come up in India during this period were in 1924 when airports were built in Allahabad, Bombay, and Calcutta.

In 1927, under the British Raj, the Indian Government set up India’s civil aviation department.

The first international passenger flight to India was in 1929.

It was Introduced by imperial airways which were British airways But in the olden times it used to be called imperial airways and they introduced the first flight from London to Karachi(Karachi was a part of India at that time) and this flight took four different aircraft so the passengers had to change four airplanes and they had to make 20 different stops for refueling so they would stop 20 times on the way to Karachi to refueling the aircraft, at that time in today’s money the ticket cost somewhere close to about 7 to 7.5 lakhs rupees, but even then it was still pretty fast.

Now coming from London to Karachi by ship would take somewhere close to about three weeks so 6 to 7 days was not a very bad thing. Also in 1929, India's first flying school was started. It was called the Aeroclub of India and Burma and they handed out their first-ever license and whole of India's first-ever commercial pilot license (This is my dream but I could not achieve this)

Okay now, can you guys guess who it was handed over to, I'm sure all of you already know it was given to Mr. JRD TATA, he was issued on the 10th of February 1929,

Mr.JRD TATA was the pioneer of aviation in India.

In 1932, he convinced his uncle who was heading Tata companies at that time to invest in aviation and as a result, TATA airlines was born and this was India's first airline (if you need more information about Tata companies here below I have attached a Tamil video you can click that and gain more and more information about it)

The airline was based in a very small hut that had a thatched roof where the airlines started at Juhu airport in Mumbai.

The first flight happened on the 15th of October 1932and was piloted by Mr. JRD TATA himself.

The flight carried 25KG of Mail for the Indian postal services. Then the flight was from Karachi to Bombay via Ahmedabad the aircraft flown was a De Havilland bus.

In 1932, India also got its first domestic flight which was from Bombay to Trivandrum, again by the TATA airlines and the cost of the ticket in going from Bombay to Trivandrum was about 250Rs at that time. In the first year, Tata airlines flew close to about 2.5 lakh Kms and then flew close to about 150 passengers, but now the fact is that many passengers can fly in one single flight in today's state. But back then because the airplanes were small they took one year to fly approximately 150 people. Sometimes because the airplanes were so small the passengers had to sit on the mailbags inside the aircraft to get from a to b.

In 1946, Tata airlines were renamed air India as we know it today and 2 years later in 1948 air India operated the first International flight it was from Bombay to London. and this flight was a weekly service and it had a special name to it was called the Malabar Princess,

The flight was done on a 40 seater Lockheed l-749 constellation and the flight took 24hours and 2 refueling stops to get to London with tickets costing 1700 Rupees at that time.

In 1953, the government of India decided to nationalize Air India which means it was no longer a privately owned airline, it was now a government-owned airline.

However, in recognition of Mr. JRD TATA's work, he was the chairman of Air India and under his leadership air, India became one of the world's best airlines back then.

In 1960, Air India had a fleet of six Boeing 707s, those were the only aircraft that owned and it became the world's first airline to move on to the jet era, which means the aircraft was no longer powered by pistons all the aircraft in Air India's fleet at that time were powered by jet engines and they were Boeing 707s Mr. JRD TATA continued to head air India till 1977.

At which point he was removed from his post because of poli8 problems and because of Indra Gandhi's emergencies, which he supported but all of that aside.

And that's how aviation started in the initial stage in India and you need more details about Air India, Military aviation history and other aviation information kindly follow us on our site, social media platforms, and all. Thanks for reading this blog guys thank you bye-bye.

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