Odisha CM unveils Biju Patnaiks Dakota aircraft for public viewing in Bhubaneswar

Odisha CM unveils Biju Patnaik's Dakota aircraft for public viewing in Bhubaneswar

The iconic Dakota aircraft of legendary leader Biju Patnaik was unveiled by Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Sunday (March 3) at the Bhubaneswar airport on the 107th birth anniversary of the former CM of Odisha.

The Dakota DC-3 aircraft used by Biju Patnaik, an ace pilot, was brought from Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose International Airport in Kolkata to the Odisha capital on January 18, 2023, and remade before it was put for public viewing at the Biju Patnaik International Airport here.

A 10-member team of Aerospace Research Development required 12 days to dismantle the aircraft and pack it in proper shape for public viewing. The team of engineers, technicians and experts undertook the assembling of the dismantled aircraft, an official said.

Naveen PatnaikTalking to PTI, Odisha’s IT Secretary Manoj Mishra, who was part of the team for renovation and restoration of the iconic Dakota aircraft said “today is an emotional day for all of us. We have heard so many stories about the late Biju Patnaik ji, on how he had gone and rescued people from Indonesia, how he had made landing in Leh in Jammu and Kashmir. We didn’t have a living symbol of his daredevilry in Odisha”.

Mishra said “when we brought the Dakota from Kolkata Airport, it was really in very bad condition. We have restored it in full glory and it now stands as a testimony to Biju Babu’s daredevilry and it will inspire generation after generation, when people will see and the new generation will read about him.”

This is perhaps the first airport in the world where an aircraft is being displayed at the entrance for public viewing, said noted historian Anil Dhir.

Before bringing the Dakota to Odisha, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) had allotted 1.1 acre of land for the aircraft to be placed in front of the airport named after the legendary leader. A memorial will be built for this purpose.

It is a matter of pride for the Odisha government to unveil the Dakota DC-3 aircraft. Public display of the aircraft will serve as an embodiment of the former chief minister’s courage and adventurism, and inspire people of Odisha to dream big, a release by the commerce and transport department said.

The government is also planning to build a mini walk-through museum at the display site. It will depict the young days of Biju Patnaik when he flew the aircraft, his adventure stories and pictures and tales of his high-risk missions.

Before joining politics, Biju Patnaik was an ace pilot and also established Kalinga Airlines having a fleet of 15 Dakota aircraft. As part of his adventure trip, Biju Patnaik had rescued erstwhile Indonesian vice-president Muhammad Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir in 1947.

The Indonesian government had twice decorated Biju Patnaik with Bhumiputra, the highest civilian award of the country, for his daredevil mission. Since, this aircraft is closely associated with Biju Patnaik, it will resemble Odisha’s rich aviation history, which would be a befitting tribute to one of the most iconic personality of Odisha. People will see this Dakota Aircraft as a memento of late Biju Patnaik’s bravery and heroics, an official statement issued by CMO said.

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