A news report by Kalyan Ray in Deccan Herald confirms a rumour that has been going for the past couple of years. That the IAF Vintage Flight will soon be presented with an airworthy Dakota that was purchased in UK by a private party. This reports now reveals who the benefactor is, and what was done.
A photograph of the fully airworthy Dakota KN397 - Photo Courtesy Alan Wilson via Flickr
Dakota to join IAF vintage squadron next year
Aircraft a gift from Karnataka Rajya Sabha MP
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is set to add a Dakota DC3 aircraft in its vintage squadron next year as a refurbished DC3 with IAF colours is now flying over the UK.
Over the next couple of months, IAF would have to decide how to bring home the aircraft—a gift from Parliament member Rajeev Chandrasekhar—and give the pilots some practice time before the aircraft fly at the 2017 edition of Aero-India.
There are two options before the IAF—either to dismantle the aircraft, ferry it and reassemble in India, or fly it straight to India with multiple stopover in between.
“Its a logistic issue to be decided by the IAF,” Chandrasekhar told Deccan Herald. The Harvard aircraft of IAF vintage squadron was carried by a C-17 Globemaster-III in its belly and assembled in India.
The Dakota was brought to the life from the static condition by a UK company named Reflight Airworks that modified the IAF's Harvard and Tiger Moth. “It’s now flying for short periods of 15-30 minutes as it is airworthy, but needs to be certified for longer flights,” said Chandrasekhar.
The MP's father Air Commodore M K Chandrasekhar (rtd) was an IAF pilot, who flew Dakota early in his career. “Besides its historical significance, I also have personal memories about the aircraft. If everything goes well, this aircraft will fly in the Indian skies in the next 6-8 months,” he said.
Because of the sterling role it played in the IAF history, Dakota evokes nostalgic memories in Indian aviation. The aircraft was used for transporting troops in Srinagar during the 1947-48 war that saved Jammu and Kashmir.
Decades later, it played a pivotal role in the liberation of Bangladesh and formation of Bangladesh Air Force. The aircraft was used for the famous Tangail drop —the biggest and most ambitious air-drop operation since World War II.
Last year, the IAF gifted a Dakota from its museum to the Bangladesh Air Force.
DC3 was the first transport aircraft that landed at the height of 11,500 feet in Leh by the then Wg Cdr Mehar Singh, a legendary aviator. The transport aircraft was used in the IAF from 1940 to 1980s and was even flown extensively in civilian routes in North Bengal and North East.
When asked about its cost, Chandrasekhar, a well-known businessman, refused to spell out a figure. All he said was, “It’s not inexpensive.” The Harvard cost Rs 25 million to the IAF while the Tiger Moth biplane cost Rs 10 million.
After the Dakota DC3 (C47), the IAF has plans to add Spitfire, Hawker, Gnat, Lysander and Wapiti aircraft in its vintage squadron over the next 10 years.