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02 SANDS OF TIME                                               VOL. XIV, ISSUE 2, 2017


and with all my personal enthusiasm I would be reluctant       On the morning of October 15, 1932 there was a small
to recommend to the rm the acceptance of proposals on          crowd in attendance at Drigh Road airport, in Karachi.
a larger scale than our proposed West Coast Line.”             JRD, twenty-eight then, was clad in long white trousers
                                                               and a short-sleeved white shirt. He was armed with only a
The Government nally relented. According to JRD, “If the       pair of goggles and a slide rule that he always carried on
Government could not, or would not, spend a lakh or half
a lakh, or a cent for an air service would they see their way   ights. JRD shook hands with all present and punctually at
to accept one gratis, for nothing?” The Government             6.30 am, the single-engine De Havilland Puss Moth VT-
would, and Tata Air Mail came into being.                      ACZ took off with a 25 kg load of mail. The rst sector

Detailed negotiations followed and a ten-year contract          ight to Ahmedabad took four hours and fteen minutes.
was signed on April 24, 1932 between the Government            At Ahmedabad, the plane was refuelled by Burmah Shell.
and the Tatas. It involved no subsidy of any kind, but only    The fuel was brought up to the small aeroplane in a small
payment of a certain rate per pound carried, based on a        cart drawn by a single bullock with four gallons of petrol.
sliding scale according to the distance over which the         Refuelled and south again to Bombay, two hours and
mails were own. The person deputed by the Tatas to             thirty ve minutes later, the rst air mail service in India
work out the details of the new airline was JAD Naoroji,       had arrived.
Managing Director, Tata Oil Mills Co. Ltd.
                                                               In accordance with their well-thought-out and meticulous
Once approved, JRD went to England to purchase two             planning, within twenty minutes of JRD's landing, the mail
De Havilland Puss Moths. The Puss Moth could                   was transferred to the second waiting Puss Moth VT-ADN.
accommodate a pilot in front, two passengers in the rear       Nevill Vintcent took off from Juhu in the second Puss
or a few hundred pounds of mail.                               Moth carrying the airmails further south to Madras (now
                                                               Chennai), via the small district headquarters town of
                                                               Bellary – a refuelling halt en route.

Captain Homi Bharucha was the rst pilot on the payroll.        “The ight was actually bumpy and hot.” JRD said on
JRD and Vintcent were the other two pilots.                    arrival. “I had a delightful ight from Karachi to Bombay
                                                               despite head winds all along the route, until I reached
Karachi had an aerodrome to receive the Imperial Airways       Ahmedabad. The result was that although my Puss Moth
 ight and they had prepared a tower for the Zeppelin to        plane has a cruising speed of 100 miles an hour I was able
                                                               to achieve maximum speed of only 90 to 92 miles per
land but Bombay did not have even an aerodrome. The            hour.”
only place suitable to y from or land at Bombay, were the
mud ats at Juhu.                                               On landing in Bombay that afternoon JRD was asked to
                                                               explain the future working of the service. He replied, “I can
At rst, September 15, 1932 was scheduled for the               say this much, that we shall try our best to keep up a
inauguration of the Tata Aviation Service. But the             regular service and hope the public will support us in our
monsoon that year was heavy and the mud ats at Juhu            endeavour.”
air eld were underwater. So, the date was postponed by
a month.

The mudats at Juhu in Bombay in 1932 that created history     JRD Tata with Nevill Vintcent on his left after the rst historic
          with the landing of India’s rst air mail service.   ight of the subcontinent landed from Karachi. The plane was

                                                                                             piloted by JRD Tata.

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