Bhubaneswar: The homecoming of Biju Patnaik’s iconic Dakota aircraft spread a ripple of excitement in Odisha a few weeks ago, with the government planning to bring the now-abandoned aircraft that was flown by the former Chief Minister.
Biju Patnaik International airport in Bhubaneswar houses a cafe called DAKOTA in its food court, complete with a scaled down replica of the famed aircraft that was once flown by Biju Patnaik in his valiant act where he rescued Indonesia’s former vice president and prime minister in 1947.
Conceptualised and insituted three years ago by hotelier Debasish Patnaik, it was meant to be a befitting homage paid to Biju Patnaik and his Kalinga Airlines. The walls of the lounge of bear photographs of one of Biju Patnaik’s most prized possessions and snippets of its history.
Biju Patnaik rescued former Indonesian Vice President Muhammad Hatta and Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir from their enemies on July 22, 1947 from Jakarta. He was credited with making the historic return landing at Srinagar on Oct 27 in the same year. Later, the Indonesian government honoured Biju Babu with the title Bhumi Putra title for his courage and valour.
The 65 ft X 95 ft Dakota D3 aircraft he flew to Indonesia, is now parked disregarded in a bad shape at the Kolkata airport. Kalinga Airlines once boasted of the sturdiest 18 Dakota aircrafts that helped transport troops, supplies and medical assistance to Srinagar during the Kashmir operation of 1947-48. 12 of these aircrafts have crashed, three are untraceable and of the remaining three one is in Mumbai airport, one in Indonesia and one in Kolkata airport since 1947.