History of Domestic Flights Operations in India

With so much happening in the domestic civil aviation sector currently and the private players stealing the march over the state-owned ones in terms of market leadership, people are bound to get curious about knowing how the seeds of civil aviation were sown in India. The journey of civil aviation began in the year 1910 from the month of December when the first maiden flight took place at Allahabad. Equally interesting to know is the fact that it was the Maharaja of Patiala who first evinced interest in bringing airplanes to India in 1910 and sent off his British engineer to Europe for bringing these planes here. As the history would have it, these planes were brought to India in the month of December in 1910 but were not the first to be flown. The first flight happened on 10 December 1910 by a Bleriot plane flown by Mr. Davies which flew to a height of about 25-30 feet in Allahabad. The second flight, on the next day, flown by Frenchman Henry Pequet carried the first passenger in India who was one of the sons of Maharaja of Benares. By carrying this first passenger, Henry also began the process of offering the joyrides and exhibiting the flights till January 1911. Cost of air tickets was based on the pay of Henry for per hour of flight, which was pegged at GBP 0.5 of those times.

Calcutta was the next city to witness the domestic flights after Allahabad. Baron de Caters used the Bleriot monoplane to fly over Tollygunj and in the second flight same day, also took a woman passenger by the name of NC Sen who got the distinction of becoming the first woman passenger in Indian aviation history.

Soon after, it was the Boxkite aeroplane which demonstrated its usefulness for the army operations when it was used for, arguably the first reconnaissance flight in Aurangabad in an exercise.

Tata Aviation came much later and in the avatar of a mail delivery plane. The first mail was delivered on October 15, 1932 from Karachi to Mumbai. The government policies on who would start an airline company were rather liberal in allowing anyone who wanted to start one to go ahead. HAL was created in 1940 by Seth Hirachand Walchand. However, too many players created an untenable position and the Air Corporation Act of 1953 was passed for nationalizing the airlines. The act now been repealed once again to provide space for private players.

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