Biju Patnaik’s Iconic Dakota to be Sold as Scrap

Legendary Biju Patnaik’s iconic Dakota DC-3, in which he rescued Indonesia’s freedom fighters in a heroic act in 1947, will in all probability sold as scrap soon.

“It will be most unfortunate if Biju Babu’s legacy is sold at Rs 30 a kg,” eminent researcher Anil Dhir said.

The plane is presently parked in the isolation bay of the Netaji Subash Chandra Bose International Airport at Kolkata along with six other aircrafts. Mr Dhir said the Airport Authority of India (AAI) had contacted the Metal Scrap Trading Corporation for selling off the Dakota as scrap.

“The Dakota is the last complete surviving aircraft in the country. It took me a full year to trace, identify and crosscheck the plane’s manufacturing number with the American archives. I had to go to Kolkata half a dozen times before I was able to examine the hulk,” Dhir said.

The aircraft was part of the fleet of 18 Dakota aeroplanes of the erstwhile Kalinga Airlines used in the Kashmir operation in 1947-48 when Biju ferried troops to Srinagar along with medical assistance and other supplies, Dhir said.

As the aircraft was lying neglected as a piece of scrap in an abandoned corner of Kolkata airport,  the Odisha government had decided to bring back the aircraft to the state and place it in the premises of ‘Anand Bhawan’, Biju’s ancestral home in Cuttack as a mark of tribute to the expert pilot and his machine.

However, Dhir had written a letter to the Odisha chief minister and Biju Patnaik’s son Naveen Patnaik urging him place the Dakota  in Bhubaneswar instead of Cuttack. If the aircraft was kept at a suitable place outside the Biju Patnaik International Airport, thousands of visitors would get to see this great relic of bygone days every day and realize Biju Babu’s contribution for the nation’s aviation history. But unfortunately, the whole project appears to have collapsed as the aircraft is set to be disposed off as scrap. The government appears to have forgotten its decision to bring it back to Odisha, he said.