How Tata gave India its first airline

Decades before the mudflats of Juhu were in the news for housing Bollywood celebrities, they made history with the landing of India’s first commercial airline—Tata Airlines. It was on 15 October 1932 that the enterprising 29-year-old Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata (JRD), landed his de Havilland DH 80A Puss Moth aircraft there, on the inaugural flight of India’s first scheduled air-mail service from Karachi to Bombay.

The plane had been shipped from England to South Bombay’s Alexandra Docks. There, JRD’s friend, industrialist Nusserwanjee Guzder, had the dismantled airplane transported to the Juhu Flying Club, where it was painstakingly reassembled.

Tata’s landing that day was the culmination of a schoolboy fixation with flying that began in France. He spent his formative years at his father Ratanji’s seaside cottage in Normandy.  A little along the beach lived the dashing French pilot Louis Blériot—the first man to fly across the English Channel. Blériot’s daredevil adventures captivated the young JRD; from that point on, all he wanted to do was fly.

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