Witnessing the heroics and bravery of Shri Biju Patnaik, more than 850 children of SAI International, visited the renovated Douglas DC-3 ‘Dakota’ displayed at the Biju Patnaik International Airport on Thursday, March 9, 2023. Odisha's Chief Minister, Shri Naveen Patnaik unveiled the refurbished, reassembled & iconic Douglas DC-3 ‘Dakota’ aircraft for public viewing at the Bhubaneswar airport on Sunday, March 5, 2023, on occasion of 107th birth anniversary of the legendary leader & Former-Chief Minister, Shri Biju Patnaik.
Instilling the 21st century skills of social and cultural awareness, SAI International initiated the visit to the airport. SAIoneers with great zeal and enthusiasm went around the place, learning about the history of the most talked about aircraft and how Biju Patnaik had flown this aircraft to rescue former Indonesian Vice-President Mohammad Hatta and former Prime Minister Sutan Sjahrir.
The students were in awe viewing the Dakota Aircraft used by legendary Biju Patnaik installed as memorabilia. They learnt how the iconic Dakota (DC-3) Aircraft (VT-AUI) was part of erstwhile Kalinga Airlines founded by legendary former Chief Minister Biju Patnaik and how the former CM was the airline's chief pilot and that the airlines had operated close to a dozen Dakotas. The aircraft was then refurbished and reassembled before being placed in Biju Patnaik International Airport as a relic.
Shri Biju Patnaik underwent training as a pilot at the Aeronautic Training Institute of India and Delhi Flying Club. Later he joined the Royal Indian Air Force in 1936, mostly flying supply and transport planes such as the ‘Dakota’. In the early 1940s, as Imperial Japan started moving eastwards and annexing Western colonies in southeast Asia, Shri Patnaik flew many sorties rescuing British officials and families from the Japanese advance.
It was a great learning experience for the children of SAI Angan. Learning beyond classroom is a core experiential learning practiced by SAI International. The SAIoneers were enlightened about how the iconic ‘Dakota” resembles Odisha’s rich aviation history and is a befitting tribute to one of the most iconic personalities of Odisha.
“I loved the Dakota aircraft, it inspires me to become a pilot and serve my nation”, said a young SAIoneer after the visit.
“We want our SAI children to learn through experience and get inspired by allowing them to witness the heritage of our state and nation to build an India as envisioned by great leaders of the past”, said Dr. Silpi Sahoo, Chairperson, SAI International.