Name airport after JRD Tata, mark Oct 15 as National Aviation Day: Pilot body to PM Modi

The Federation of Indian Pilots has written to PM Modi asking him to declare the anniversary of JRD Tata’s first flight as National Aviation Day and name the next major airport in his honour.

As Air India takes to the skies again as a ‘Tata enterprise’, many are recalling the contributions of the man who heralded civil aviation in the country.

Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata or JRD Tata, was India’s first licensed pilot and the founder of India’s first commercial airline in 1932 — Tata Airlines, which became Air India in 1946.

Today, the airline JRD Tata had founded is back in his company’s fold and there are those who want to pay tribute to the “father of civil aviation” in India.

The Federation of Indian Pilots (FIP), a body of commercial pilots, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to declare the anniversary of JRD Tata’s first flight as National Aviation Day and the name of the next major airport in honour of India’s first commercial aviator.

President of FIP (Rtd) Capt Surinder Mehta writes, “The Late Bharat Ratna Air Vice Marshal JRD Tata is considered the father of civil aviation in India as it was his first flight in October 15, 1932 which heralded the dawn of airmail services in our country. Sir, it would be only appropriate that October 15 be declared as the National Aviation Day of India.”

The letter cites the United States of America, which celebrates August 19 as National Aviation Day every year. August 19 is the birthday of Orville Wright, the first person to accomplish powered flight.

The Federation of Indian Pilots hopes October 15 this year itself can be declared National Aviation Day, as it will be the 90th anniversary of JRD Tata’s first flight.

In the letter, Capt Mehta also adds that all over the world it is common practice to name airports after famous aviators and other aviation pioneers. These include Wilbur Wright Field in Dayton, USA after Wilbur Wright and Sabiha Gocken International Airport in Istanbul named after Sabiha Gocken, the first Turkish female combat pilot, among others.

On October 8 last year, when the government announced Tata Sons as the successful bidder for Air India, Tata Sons’s chairman emeritus Ratan Tata tweeted a photo of JRD Tata disembarking from an Air India flight, when it was still within the Tata fold, saying “Welcome back, Air India.”

In the note attached, Ratan Tata wrote, “On an emotional note, Air India, under the leadership of Mr JRD Tata had, at one time, gained the reputation of being one of the most prestigious airlines in the world. Tatas will have the opportunity of regaining the image and reputation enjoyed in earlier years.”

He added, “Mr JRD Tata would have been overjoyed if he was in our midst today.”

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