Kolkata Airport Vintage DC-3 Set To Be Relocated 240 Miles Away

Kolkata is moving one of its vintage aircraft from the airport to the neighboring state of Odisha. The plane in question is a Douglas DC-3 Dakota, an aircraft that is over 70 years old and served many roles in India. The plane will make its way close to the statue of former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik, who himself flew the aircraft and founded the erstwhile Kalinga Airlines.

Dakota DC-3
Once a memorable piece of Indian aviation history, the DC-3 has been lying in Kolkata Airport with little to no maintenance for years. Photo: Tony Hisgett via Wikimedia Commons

New home

According to The Statesman, the Odisha government has started the process of moving the vintage DC-3 Dakota out of Kolkata Airport to its new home. The aircraft will be placed near the statue of former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik at Bhubaneshwar Airport. The plane last flew with Kalinga Airlines, following its military service and before its retirement.

Patnaik had a long history with the DC-3 Dakotas. He first flew the plane as a part of the Royal Indian Air Force during the Second World War. During his military service, he was a part of several daring rescue missions and operations using the Dakotas, ranging from Kashmir to Indonesia.

This included one evacuation of the then-Indonesian President from the country and to India while facing attacks from the Dutch military. Patnaik’s daring rescue, which included an improvised landing strip and reusing fuel from old military vehicles, later made him an honorary citizen of Indonesia and the recipient of its highest honor for a foreigner.

Douglas DC-3 Dakota
The DC-3 is considered a revolutionary aircraft since its launch due to its impressive speed and range. Photo: FotoSleuth via Wikimedia Commons

However, Patnaik’s history with the plane did not end with his time in the Air Force. He went on to found Kalinga Airlines in 1953, riding a wave of the new carriers in the post-colonial country. Kalinga also operated a fleet of DC-3s, which were used for cargo missions across the northeast from its home in Kolkata.

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While the DC-3s have played a key role in India’s military and civil aviation history, they have not been preserved well. The one at Kolkata Airport has seen little maintenance, resulting in its condition deteriorating over the last few decades. While the Odisha government has promised to move the plane for years, this time will hopefully be different.

As you may have guessed, the DC-3 is nowhere near airworthy and will likely be dismantled to be carried by road to Biju Patnaik International Airport in Bhubaneshwar, some 240 miles away, according to Kolkata’s Airport Director.

In total, India flew 18 Douglas DC-3 Dakotas. 12 of these planes have been scrapped, while three are off the record. The remaining three are currently stored at Kolkata Airport, Mumbai Airport, and in Indonesia. Considering the critical role the plane has played from the 1930s to 1970s, expect to see this DC-3 in Odisha very soon, preserving an important part of aviation history.

What do you think about the Odisha government’s plan to move the aircraft? Let us know in the comments!