New Delhi. The Dakota DC-3 VP 905, which was accepted by the Chief of the Air Staff (CAS) from Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha) Rajeev Chandrasekhar on February 13, was formally inducted into the IAF at Air Force Station Hindan on the outskirts of the national capital here May 4 evening.
The aircraft commenced its journey from the UK on April 17 and was flown by a joint crew of the IAF and M/s Reflight Airworks Ltd. The aircraft flew a total of 9750 km during its ferry into India and made en-route halts in France, Italy, Greece, Jordan, Bahrain and Oman.
The aircraft landed on Indian soil at Air Force Station Jamnagar on April 25 and reached its final destination at Air Force Station Hindan April 26.
This historic flight of the Dakota DC-3 VP 905, across seven countries, was a commemoration of the service provided by this venerable aircraft to the nation.
The arduous feat of traversing half the globe in nine days on an aircraft of this vintage is a tribute to the steadfast determination and professionalism of the crew, the unflinching support provided by the Embassies of India in the countries en-route and the unwavering reliability of the old war horse.
The aircraft was escorted on its final leg of the journey, which was over the sea from Muscat to Jamnagar, by a P-8I aircraft of the Indian Navy, a C-130J and the Su-30 MKIs of the IAF.
It was received with due ceremony by Air Marshal RK Dhir, AOC-in-C SWAC and the Mr Chandrasekhar. Air Cmde MK Chandrasekhar (Retd) was granted special permission by the Defence Minister to fly on board the aircraft from Jamnagar to Air Force Station Hindan.
His presence on the aircraft commemorated the contribution and sacrifice of a multitude of veterans who have successfully operated this aircraft in times of peace and war.
To honour the homecoming of the Dakota, a grand ceremony was held at Air Force Station Hindan May 4. The ceremony was attended by the Chief of the Air Staff, Senior functionaries of the Ministry of Defence, diplomats from the High Commission of the UK, officers of the IAF, representatives from M/s Reflight Airworks and proud veterans of the IAF who have operated this magnificent flying machine.
The unique journey undertaken by the Dakota to its homestead, the Vintage Aircraft Flight of the IAF, was keenly followed the world over and its arrival has scripted an indelible mark in the rich legacy of the IAF.