Aviation in India – A Peep Into Its Early History

By Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava (Retd)

In 2003 the whole world celebrated the centenary of powered flight. But we Indians have to wait till 2010 to observe the centenary of flight in India. After the flight of the Wright Flyer, it took just seven years, almost to the day, for the first aircraft to get airborne at Allahabad in UP. There was hectic activity to bring planes to India and show them off in December 1910.

First off the block was His Highness the Maharaja of Patiala. He sent his British Engineer CW Bowles to Europe to look at the new art or science of flying and bring a couple of planes back with him. Bowles returned to India in December 1910 with a Farman biplane made in England and a Gnome-Bleriot monoplane fitted with two seats. Apparently in Europe, France was the first to get into the business of flying. The Farman was also a French design but built in England by a Thomas Holt, recognized as the father of the aviation industry in England, in collaboration with Farman Brothers of France. Fortune did not favour Patiala and neither of these aircraft became the first to get into the air.

In early December 1910 a party from Belgium and two from England also came to India with several aeroplanes. Their idea was to showcase flying and naturally exploit any business opportunities that might arise out of the demonstrations. The first of these to land in India was from Coventry’s Humber Motor Company, famous for its cars especially used by the police in UK. It included a leader, Capt WG Windham, two pilots – one French and one English, and two mechanics also one French and one English. The Humber Company asked the team to proceed to Allahabad immediately after it landed in Bombay by a merchant ship. This group with all its packing cases set off for Allahabad with the intention of demonstrating the aircraft at the Industrial & Agricultural Exhibition due to be held there shortly. It arrived on December 5 and assembled the planes in five days at a polo ground right next to the Exhibition Grounds. A local newspaper reported the first flight in India as follows: –

“The first actual flight was successfully attained by Mr. Davies in a ‘Bleriot’. On the 10th of December Mr. Davies had the machine ready and early in the morning circled the polo ground at a height of twenty five or thirty feet” The paper added, “Thus Allahabad has had the distinction of giving the lead not only in India, but also to the whole of Asian Continent in connection with the latest of scientific wonders”.

The aircraft ready to fly weighed five hundred pounds without the pilot and cost £ 550/=, just under Rs 7,500/= at the rate existing then. Surely this amount was affordable by many people at the time.

The second aircraft flew the next day, December 11 1910, under the control of the French pilot Henri Pequet and carried the first air passenger in India. He was one of the sons of the Maharaja of Benares, obviously an intrepid young man. But The Statesman of Calcutta, a newspaper still very well respected, published a different version of the flights in Allahabad. Its issue of December 18 reported that Henri Pequet made the first flight in India on December 17. According the paper, Pequet flew the biplane over the confluence of the Ganges and the Yamuna (Sangam) and also over the Allahabad Fort. The newspaper expected regular display flights to begin on December 20 over the Exhibition Grounds and continue displays till January 6, 1911. The possibility of joyrides being given was also mentioned. By then it was estimated that a total of five hours of flying had been accumulated covering almost 50 miles. Henri Pequet was paid £.50/= per hour of flying, provided each flight lasted longer than two minutes. He is today recognised, especially by knowledgeable stamp collectors, as the pilot to carry world’s first airmail from Allahabad to Naini just across the Yamuna, and back to Allahabad. He carried 6,000 odd letters and postcards, many of which were addressed to celebrities worldwide, including King George V in England. If you can find one of these postmarked covers or stamps with the words “First Aerial Post”, you can sell it today for the price of a flat or a house.

Calcutta, the capital of British India before it was shifted to Delhi, was not far behind in making aviation history. But perhaps news at the time did not travel between cities fast enough. The Statesman of December 21, 1910 said that the second flight in India was at Tollygunj, a suburb of Calcutta on December 20. Baron de Caters flew the Bleriot monoplane over Tollygunj Club for fifteen minutes. The same day the Baron flew with a lady passenger, Mrs NC Sen, who thus became the first woman in India to get airborne. The paper had also claimed that Mrs Sen was the first woman in the world to fly in a plane. But this claim was quite wrong, as by then in the West it had become fashionable for society ladies to casually drop their news of having dared a ride in a flying machine.

For December 28, Baron de Caters organised a flying display at Tollygunj. This attracted almost all the able population of Calcutta willing to forego work or other pleasures for a day. The Baron did the first few flights in the Farman, gave rides to two ladies and several gentlemen. While this was exciting enough, the next day, December 29, Jules Tyck set two national records in his Bleriot. He became the first to fly over the city, including directly over the Government House. The second record was set when he climbed to all of 700 feet above ground level. Calcutta was in for more excitement.

On January 6, 1911, a huge crowd gathered at the Maidan to witness Henri Jullerot display his Boxkite developed by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company of Bristol, England. The crowds were reported the next day to have been in excess of 100,000, perhaps even more than seen now-a-days at Eden Garden for one day international cricket matches. Seats at the Race Course’s Grand Stand of the Maidan were exorbitantly priced at Rs 5/= each! The flight was cheered with gusto. But the show concluded fast enough as the Boxkite had to be dismantled and taken to Aurangabad by train to demonstrate it to the Indian Army.

Obviously, just like the armed forces the world over, Indian Army was quick to realise the military importance of new technology such as the flying machines. The Boxkite was assembled in open ground next to the Aurangabad railway station. Perhaps world’s first reconnaissance flights took place in it on January 15 and 16 to report on the forces opposing a Cavalry Brigade. The pilot, Henri Jullerot sat on the spar of the leading edge of the lower wing with his feet on a rudder bar. The observer, Sefton Branckner sat close behind, a bit higher and with his feet around the pilot. The reconnaissance sorties were highly successful. But except for a few generals, including the Commander-in-Chief of the Indian Army and the Chief of Staff, most army officers did no think that the aeroplane had much use for them except perhaps for limited reconnaissance of enemy positions. This attitude persists till today, only slightly moderated due to introduction of aviation within the army itself.

Meanwhile Baron de Caters and Jules Tyck took their aircraft around the country and gave displays at many towns. The show in Bangalore was on February 3, 1911 and in Madras on February 18.

The First World War soon interrupted any progress of aviation in India for a while. Two Indians distinguished themselves in this war. Inder Lal Roy joined the Royal Flying Corps in April 1917 at the tender age of just over eighteen years. After receiving his training and the King’s Commission, he joined No.. 56 Squadron in France but was shot down in December. He was given up for dead but gained consciousness surrounded by dead bodies. After recovery he returned to flying and shot down nine German planes before losing his life in his last air combat. He was posthumously awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (DFC), the first Indian to receive the honour. The other famous Indian pilot was Sardar Hardit Singh Malik, who had also joined in April 1917. He was wounded in November but returned to flying in time for the defence of London. He was demobilised after the war and had a really distinguished career as a diplomat. He was, not long ago, the senior-most citizen playing golf at the Delhi Golf Club.

The Royal Air Force inaugurated its first station in India at Ambala. But the Indian Air Force (IAF) was launched by an act of the Governor General on October 8, 1932. The A Flight of No. 1 Squadron came into existence on April 1, 1933 under the command of an RAF officer on deputation. Its senior-most Indian officer was Pilot Officer Subroto Mukherjee who later became IAF’s first Indian Commander-in-Chief as an Air Vice Marshal and then took over as the Chief of Air Staff as an Air Marshal. His successor was Air Marshal AM (Aspy) Engineer.

Aspy Engineer had started his flying career rather early. He and RN Chawla were the first Indians to fly a De Havilland Moth from India to England. They left on March 3 and arrived on March 20,1930. Aspy’s return flight from England was to contest for the Aga Khan Prize of £ 500 for flying between the two countries in either direction. JRD Tata took off in a Gypsy Moth on May 3 from Karachi for England. They crossed each other at Aboukir in Egypt where Aspy was in some trouble due to problems with some spark plugs. JRD helped him out. Aspy arrived in India when JRD had just reached Paris. Presumably because he took longer, JRD Tata came second to Aspy who won the Prize. But JRD was never a loser. After protracted negotiations with the Government of India, he started his airmail service under the name of Tata Aviation. He piloted the first carriage of mail from Karachi to Bombay on October 15, 1932. The initial efforts at passenger carriage in India were limited to British owned or funded airlines, such as the Indian Trans-Continental Airways and Indian National Airways. But as the need for more air travel facilities became paramount, permission was given to almost anyone wanting to start an airline. This resulted in a profusion of quick start airlines, which competed with each other perhaps by cutting fares and down time for maintenance. Soon enough the situation became untenable. Eventually the Air Corporation Act of 1953 was passed nationalising all airlines. Air India International took over the international traffic and Indian Airlines Corporation the domestic. While the two national airlines still operate, the domestic scene changed once again as a result of economic reforms. The prospects of passenger and cargo traffic in India can only be described now as rosy.

Meanwhile in December 1940, Seth Hirachand Walchand launched Hindustan Aircraft Limited (HAL) with the help of an American and the State of Mysore. Dr VM Ghatge, India’s first aircraft designer soon joined the company and designed the G-1 Glider, the first such venture in India. However, due to World War II, the G-1 did not get used and Dr Ghatge became the first to start teaching aeronautical engineering at the Indian Institute of Science. He rejoined HAL after independence and designed India’s first powered aircraft the HT-2. In time, HAL became a Corporation with several Divisions in the country. The first fighter aircraft designed in the country was the HF-24 though a German team led by Prof. KW Tank largely managed it. Many aircraft types have been produced under licence and in large numbers. Lately the country has come into its own in designing aircraft, engines, avionics and accessories. The success story of indigenous designs restarted with the ALH, now named Dhruv, a helicopter for all the defence services and also meant for civilian use. This has been followed by the Light Combat Aircraft and the Intermediate Jet Trainer.

India has so far produced transport aircraft only under licence from foreign sources. These include the Avro-748, Dornier Do-228 and the Partinavia. But now National Aerospace Laboratories is developing the Saras, a twin turbo-prop commuter aircraft. HAL is also likely to embark on the development of a 100-seater aircraft with capabilities for other roles, perhaps in collaboration with Russia.
The prospects of aviation in India are on the right path and should gladden the heart of any aviation enthusiast.

Author’s Note: Events of early aviation history in India mentioned in this article have been gleaned from the book “Glimpses into INDIAN AVIATION HISTORY” by Late Mr Alka Sen. He was the doyen of aviation journalists in India and started his career with Indian Aviation, India’s first aviation magazine in 1929. Later he became the Editor of Skyways and finally restarted Indian Aviation – Civil & Military in April 1986.

29 thoughts on “Aviation in India – A Peep Into Its Early History”

  1. Very very informative, thanks for the efforts to bring out this great historical fact to light.
    -Vinay Saran Allahabad

  2. Dear Gp Capt Kabir Bhargava,
    My compliments to you for this wonderfull work of tracing the early days of flying in the Indian Sub-continent.I have enjoyed reading this excellent expose . I wish it could have some pictures if available. ( could be with Maharaja Patiala’s archives).I am trying to trace early flying which took place in the region which is now Pakistan. Risalpur was the first station of 31 RAF Squadron which came to India in 1917. This squadron has the motto -First in the Indian Skies .Could you please add some more material covering the earlier days of flying in India.Meanwhile I am trying to lay hands on some old records to trace the origin and details of early flying on the airstrips which are in Pakistan like Drigh Road Karachi,Risalpur,Miranshah and Dera Ismail Khan etc.What i gather is that the first muslim pilot of the sub-continent was Wing Comd A.B.Awan from Dera Ismail Khan who went to England with the first batch of Indian pilots sent for flying Training in 1929.Take care .
    Azam

  3. Dear Gp Capt Bhargava,
    My compliments for such a wonderful and informative piece.Will wait for some more but do include pictures if available.I wonder if someone in Allahbad would have some old pictures of 1910 flying.
    Azam

  4. Hi Kapil
    That was very informative,I enjoyed reading it.It was before we were born!!Am grateful we were able to follow in their footsteps!!
    Love to you & Mohini
    Micky

  5. Dear Gp. Capt Kabir Bhargava, my compliments to you for this wonderfull Work, but you have a mistake, my ancestor, Mr Giacomo D’Angelis, ownwe of the “HOTEL D’ANGELIS” IN MADRAS EARLY’S 1900.wHOS THE FIRST MAN TO FLY IN INDIA, (IN mARCH 1910) MY ANCESTOR DESIGNED ANS BUILD HIS MONOPLANE IN THE CITY OF MADRAS., AND HI FLY ON MARCH 1910… 9 MONTHS AFTER MR DAVIES.
    MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THIS INthe web page “flightglobal/archives, aviation history, search year 1910, page 245… and in Breguet’s Pre- 1914 id challenge Nº 033.. I ask to you please correct about the first man to fly in india.. Please forgivme , my bad english.. my natural tong is Spanish… my regards , and God Bless you.. Jefferis Evans D’Angelis

  6. Dear Mr. Gp Capt Kabir Bhargava, I found an mistake in your information about the first man to fly in india,My Ancestor Mr Giacomo D’Angelis whos the first man to fly in india in March 1910, his Monoplane, whos designed and build in Madras for my Great Grand Father, GIACOMO D’ANGELIS, IF YOU WONT SEARCH INFORMATION ABOUT THIS IN FLIGHT GLOBAL/ARCHIVES, AVIATION HISTORY, YEAR 1910, PAGE 245 OR IN BREGUET’S PRE-1914 ID CHALLENGE Nº 033, IF YOU WONT iSEND TO YOU THIS INFORMATIONS DIRECTLY TO YOUR E- MAIL.. PLEASE CORRECT THIS MISTAKE, AND FORGIME MY BAD ENGLISH, MY NATURAL TONG IS SPANISH.. MY REGARDS AND GOD BLES YOU SINCERLY JEFFERIS DONALD EVANS D’ANGELIS

  7. Dear G/Capt. Bhargava,
    I joined Air India Ltd. in 1947 and served the airline industry in various ncapacities for more than 50 years. My friends and family are encouraging me to write an autographical history of aviation and my experiences in the Industry. There are quite a few data in your book which I would like to draw upon. I hope you will have no objection to the same.
    B est regards,
    Ramakrishnan

  8. Dear G Capt Bhargava,

    Thank you for your interesting article. I am writing from Poland. I am interested in early aviation in India, and especially in two flights by Polsih pilots: Kajetan Czarkowski-Golejewski (1931) and Stanislaw Karpinski (1935). Both left wonderful descriptions of their flights across India.

    Sincerely,

    Richard Savitski

  9. Dear Mr Richard Savitski,

    Thanks for your kind comments. I shall shortly see the items you have kindly suggested to me. Unfortunately, I am not a real historian. The article was the result merely of my interest in it.

    I have now been informed that a Flying Corsican in fact designed, built and flew an aircraft in March 1910 in Madras. I am still trying to confirm this story, though it seems authentic. Apparently,news did not get distributed too well those days. The newspaper in Allahabad claimed that the fist flight ever in India and in fact in Asia was in its domain in December 1910. I hope the complete truth will eventually prevail.

    With best wishes,
    Kapil Bhargava

  10. Dear G. Capt. Bhargava.
    Tahnk’s you do not forget, My ancestor Mr Giacomo D’Angelis,He was the first man to fly in India(Madras) March , 10, 1910.
    Please search Magazine Fly /Global, see year 1910,
    theare is a page refers to Indian Biplane nº 247,
    or search in Google Indian Biplane.
    Hopefully the truth be published.
    This in your Hand.
    Your web page is very interesting …
    Congratulations!!!!!
    And Godd Bles you and your Family.
    my Regards..
    Jefferis Evans D’Angelis
    P.D. If you sendme a e-mail to jeffevans21@gmail.com.
    ISend to you my Archives.
    .

  11. DEAR. MR bhargava, Please search by Google : Indian biplane, also in google:page: the indian biographical dictionary djvu/517-wikisource, and the articles “The Magnificent Man in Madras” and “The Flying Corsican” writen by S. Muthiah IN THE HINDU NEWS PAPER.
    GOD BLESS YOU
    AND THANK’S.
    Jefferis Evans D’Angelis

  12. Dear Friends

    I am Pulak Sen, Editor-in-Chief of INDIAN AVIATION.
    “Glimpses into INDIAN AVIATION HISTORY” by Late Mr Alka Sen, was published by our publication house and I was involved deeply with this project.
    Alka Sen, my late uncle, had written this book after painstaking research in Indian and UK libraries, including the Imperial War Library.
    I have seen the research material and the manuscipt, but there isno record of Mr Giacomo D’Angelis,He was the first man to fly in India(Madras) March , 10, 1910.
    Alka Sen had travelled to all cities of India during his research to collect details about early flying in India from newspaper archives such as The Hindu, The Deccan Herrald, The Statesman, etc. I am sure, with his passion to detials, if he would have come across some details of Mr Giacomo D’Angelis,He was the first man to fly in India(Madras) March , 10, 1910, he would have definitly written about him.
    Similarly, he researched throughly on Indian Air Force and its earlier avtar, RIAF and RIVAF.
    I am sure all of us will agree that even with our best intentions, efforts and through research to write about historical facts, there are something that does not get recorded in history books.
    In fact, once my uncle told me about the titile of his book, “Glimpses into INDIAN AVIATION HISTORY — 1910-1997” that it is only his attempt to give the glimpse into this aspect of history as the subject that was dealt with by him was vast.
    I would like to go into a little detialis about this book: It does not have any pictures as the pictures available were of poor quality and in the days we were producing the book, the re-production methods for this kind of pictures were not of today’s standards. Hence we decided to do without them.
    Pulak Sen

  13. Dear Mr Pulak Sen,
    With regard to the authenticity of D Angelis flight in Madras as the first flight of the sub-continent– the news carried by the FLIGHT JOURNAL appears to be a convincing back-up.I was recently intrigued to read that The Royal Flying Corps(RFC) established the first airfield in India at Sitapur(1913).This was the Flying School for RFC.Could you please post some details about its history and present shape.Surprisingly another valid question comes to mind that if the British had established this Flying School as way back as 1913, why did they send the first batch of Indian pilots to UK in 1930 ?

  14. Dear Mr Sen,
    Would like to add to my earlier mail-Any possibility of going through the contents of your Uncle’s book ?

    Azam

  15. Dear Mr Pulka Sen,
    Is there a possibility of you posting your uncle’s book on the net.If the entire book is not possible may be the initial parts dealing with the formative years may be possible.Thanks.

    Azam

  16. Dear Mr. Bhargava, and also Mr. Pulak Sen,
    The information that I got on aviation history has proved to be very valuable for aeroplane buff like me.

    I am a photographer and author, who is about to touch77 yrs of his life. If you want to know more you type Delhi, Light, shades, shadows, on google search,and know what is my forte. Incidentally my father,the famous writer Nirad Chaudhuri, had seen the first flight in Calcutta,and was always interested in aviation particularly used in war.
    Dhruva N. Chaudhuri

  17. Dear Javed Chaudhri,

    It was a pleasure reading your introduction about Group Captain Abdul Mujahid Morad. Could you provide some more details about the start of his flying career? Because W/C A.B.Awan writes in his book “The Winged Wagon”:

    “1st term at Cranwell began about the seventh of September 1930. Flying kit was issued to us almost on the same day. First Period after drill programme consisted of flying. Our ‘A’ Squadron set, which consisted of Berens, Peel, Gosnel, Lloyd, Rhys, Gale and myself reported to ‘A’ Flight for flying. We met our flight Commander , F/Lt Boyle who was extremely kind and nice to all of us. I still remember his first words “ I like you Awan. I am giving you to flying officer Atcherley who will be your instructor”. Outside the flight Commander’s office I met F/O Atcherley already dressed up in flying kit, with his helmet and goggles on. “Ek-Do-Tin”-he said in Hindustani. “Come on Awan- get in that Avro Lynx No.2”. By this time I was in flying kit and parachute. Two airmen helped me in the rear cockpit and tied the harness. Chocks were waved away by Atcherley. He spoke to me in the speaking tube “Keep your feet lightly on the rudder bar and your hand on the stick and feel the controls as we take off”.

    I had never been in an aeroplane before except a ten minute’s joy ride at Delhi in a light aeroplane, when I was told not to touch anything. Sensation was that of a thrill mixed with strangeness of the subject concerned. To me it appeared that the whole aerodrome was full of aeroplanes as almost everyone was taxying out. What Atcherley did; appeared a hat trick to me. I did not feel a thing and yet I felt that with the increase of noise of the engine we had left terra firma and were rapidly climbing up. I thought that at least there should be a little struggle with the control column, rudder bar and throttle before this invention of the Human being leapt up into the air.”

    This shows that W/C A.B.Awan started his flying as early as September 1930 making him Indo Sub-Continents first Muslim pilot and ofcourse the First ever Muslim Pilot to join the RIAF.

    Also according to P.A.F he is the first Muslim Military Avaitor of the Subcontinent
    http://www.paffalcons.com/gallery/aviation-art/syed-hussaini/infancy-to-independence.php

    You may also visit this link for more information

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/asadawan/

    Would like to hear from you.

    Asad Awan

  18. While I appreciate the sentiments involved, I find that often IAF is mentioned as RIAF, In fact it was IAF till 1945 when King George VI accorded it the honour of becoming RIAF in March 1945, around the 15th of the month.

    On becoming a Republic on 26 January 1950, the Royal was permanently dropped from its name and it again became the Indian Air Force.

    This message is being put up in the interest of accuracy. But I am very grateful to all the comments which have greatly added to its value. It is particularly good to see inputs from Pakistan including of the first pioneers of IAF.

    Comments from Spain and Brazil have helped clarify the history of first flights in India. This is of great importance and very welcome.

    Thank you all for contributing to this blog.

  19. Dear Mr Pulak Sen,
    Greetings and I invite your attention to my earlier request of placing on the net of your uncle’s book.I will also remind Mr Chaudhri for posting Group Capt Morad’s pictures. Thanks.
    Azam

  20. For those who wish to comment on this article: –

    I do not see why religion should come into the history of early aviation in India. If the early pilots were not foreigners, they were all Indians.

    Looking for early Muslim aviators is best left to those who are interested in their history. They may please do their own research on the subject. Otherwise, the next questions will be who was the first Baha’i, Buddhist, Christian, Jain, Jew, Parsi, Sikh, etc. I had already confessed that I am not a historian. My next confession is that I am vehemently against dividing and classifying professional people according to their religion.

    During my career in the Indian Air Force and even otherwise, I never been concerned with anyone else’s faith. It was always their business, certainly not mine. I have some very good friends from many faiths. When three of us young fighter pilots went to the Uk in 1953. We were first sent to Cirencester in the Cotswolds where the Thames was the width of a 25 foot stream. There were two PAF pilots undergoing a course to become qualified flying instructors. The five of us were the best of friends. The RAF officers could not understand that. One of them very surreptitiously asked me for an explanation. I told him that there was much more in common betw4een us than he knew or could imagine. And compared to them the Brits were strange and aliens.

    I will let the comment from Jagan remain on the blog for a while. Thereafter, it and any responses to it and comments related to religion will be deleted from the blog. Kindly humour me for this quirk.

    With best wishes,
    Kapil Bhargava

  21. The First person to apply for construction of aeroplane in india is S.V.setty(1914) from karnataka. He his the designer of most outstanding aircraft of the world for the year 1913 in collaboration with avro company(Model name- AVRO -504). Due to his premature death in the year 1918 ,he is out of aviation history

  22. S.V.Setty is one of the outstanding pioneer of world aviation. He achieved such distinction in shortest period of seven months by designing and building and testing two prototype of AVRO -504 by himself in collaboration with avro company. The First prototype was impressed and purchased by First Australian aviator during maiden test flight by s.v.setty on March 10, 1912. (The success of the aircraft in its maiden flight is very rear in the aviation history). The second prototype (improved version) was purchased by Royal AIR Force on 3 may 1912 and placed order for additional two number. Later on, He gifts new design for AVRO company (AVRO-504) and later became “THE MOST OUTSTANDING AIRCRAFT OF THE WORLD FOR THE YEAR 1913”. The aircraft was used extensively both during and after the WW-1. The aircraft was sold to more than 33 countries including INDIA and USA and licensed its production to more than 6 countries. The Gold medal presented him 12 June 1912 by AVRO COMPANY stands testimonial all the above event. Apart from the gold medal, experience certificate issued by avro company on 12 march 1912, Article published by Modern review(calcata),which carried interview of s.v.setty from London.(june-1912) and flight records of s.v.setty at Brookland flying school UK are further evidence to above, since avro record burnt in the year 1958, He is only person in the world having record to claim the design of avro 504. The evidence about him can be obtained from earlyaviator.com.

  23. Dear Gp Capt Bhargava,
    I wish to speak to you. Could you be kind enough to let me know, how & when?

    Shall appreciate an early response.

    With warmest regards.

    Gp Capt DC Mehta
    9873178855 (Mobile – Delhi No)

  24. Dear Sir,
    I had seen the reference to Mr Giacomo D’Angelis likely to have been the first to fly a powered aeroplane in India in your blog and references to it in Bharat Rakshak too. I hadn’t thought much about it then. Recently happened to visit a link in Facebook on Madras. There is a photograph of the biplane that this gentleman had built. He was a prominent hotelier in Madras in the turn of the century. There are photos of his hotel and advertisements in the local newspapers. The person who maintains that page in Facebook says he would be delighted to add any information on this that links Chennai to Aviation history in the country. I would be happy if there are any photos or articles on the Coastal Defence Flight in Madras before the II WW.
    Thanks and warm regards
    Gp Capt V Raghavan

  25. Thank you Sir for a lucid article on India’s early aviation history.
    A posting in The Hindu dated 22 Aug,2010 by S Muthiah does indeed confirm that Mr. Giacomo D’Angelis had flown a Made-in-Simpson’s bi-plane at Pallavaram, Madras, followed by public display at Island Grounds in March 1910. Please see the URL: http://www.thehindu.com/arts/history-and-culture/article588012.ece.
    Mr Muthiah should be commended for his research.

  26. Dear Captain Sir,Mr Pulak Sen,

    I want to buy the book “Glimpses into INDIAN AVIATION HISTORY”. But it is not available anywhere.

    Can you suggest where it can be bought from?

  27. Dear Mr Johnson,

    As far as I know the book is not available for sale. You should get an authentic reply from Mr Pulak Sen, when and if he finds time to attend to your request.

    With best wishes,
    Group Captain Kapil Bhargava (Retd)

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