Odisha starts process to bring back Biju Babu’s iconic Dakota aircraft


Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government has initiated the process to bring back the iconic Dakota aircraft of former chief minister Biju Patnaik to Bhubaneswar.

The aircraft is at the Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose (NSCB) International Airport in Kolkata.

The aircraft will be displayed at Biju Patnaik International Airport here.

Biju Patnaik, who was an ace pilot, had flown the Dakota to Java with his wife Gyan Patnaik, also a pilot, to rescue Sultan Sjahrir, the erstwhile prime minister of Indonesia from a jungle hideout in 1947.

The operation was carried out on the instructions of the then prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru.

A grateful Indonesia had twice decorated Biju Patnaik with its highest civilian honour Bhumiputra for his bravery.

Odishas Commerce and Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera said the public works department (PWD) had floated a tender for the transportation of the Dakota.

A Kolkata-based company was given the contract for shifting the aircraft to Bhubaneswar.

The company was allowed to bring the dismantled aircraft to Bhubaneswar by road and reassemble it in the airport premises here, sources said.

Kalinga Airlines, formed by Biju Patnaik, had as many as 18 Dakota VT-AVI aircraft. Twelve of them have been completely damaged.