HT This Day: April 19, 1971 –India’s first Jumbo arrives

The jumbo jet has come to India. Emperor Ashoka, Air-India’s first Boeing 747 roared into Bombay’s skies this morning in regal splendour and was accorded a royal reception.

HT This Day: April 19, 1971 — Air-India’s first Jumbo arrives

The jumbo jet has come to India. Emperor Ashoka, Air-India’s first Boeing 747 roared into Bombay’s skies this morning in regal splendour and was accorded a royal reception.

The jumbo, which is two-and-half times the size of the Boeing. 707, was escorted by two 1AF MiGs flanking it on either side from Alibagh, 30 miles south of Bombay. It touched down at Santa Cruz airport at 8.23 a.m.

The escorting MiGs and the third directing them then flew away to Poona. Welcoming the Emperor Ashoka were the Governor of Maharashtra and Begum Ali Yavar Jung, Mr J. R. D. Tata, Chairman of Air-India and Mrs Tata; Air Marshal M. S. Chaturvedi, Air-India’s general manager and Mrs Chaturvedi; Mr Bobby Kooka, commercial manager, officers of Air-India and a large number of citizens.

The ceremonies began after the jet, commanded by Capt. D. Bose, made an exact parking job in front of the shamiana. A pujari performed the Ganesh puja and the oldest employee of Air-India performed the coconut breaking ceremony.

Speaking on the occasion Mr J. R. D. Tata referred to the birth and growth of Air-India during the past 40 years.

Explaining why Air-India had gone in for so large and costly a plane when the 707s were still fit he said: “One is that we cannot remain a competitive carrier unless we ensure that no other airline in the world offers better equipment or better service to our passengers than we do. The other is that for the first time the industry has available an aircraft large enough to cater a mass tourist market. With the expected rapid growth of the flow of tourists to India in the years t come, Air-India must be equipped to carry its proper share of the traffic. So, whether the profit and loss account we shall present to the Government in the coming years proves that we were right or wrong in offering you the Boeing-747s for your convenience, comfort and pleasure, I hope you will at least approve of our first Emperor, and, even more so, that it will not be long before you buy a ticket on him. To our travel agent friends who are here today, may I say with folded hands: “You are our bread and butter. So won’t you please spread the Amul evenly over 340 seats four times a week ?”

He said the 747 cruised at 600 miles an hour on a jet blast of 80.000 H.P. from its four mighty engines and accommodated in luxurious comfort 340 passengers, wined and dined from four galleys.

Mr J. B. Connelly, Vice-President of the Boeing Aircraft Company paid a tribute to Air-India and its functioning.

The Governor of Maharashtra said he had seen the 747s in making and had also flown in one.

The interior decor of the jumbo is inspired by the romantic folklore and legends narrated in the celebrated Indian epic, the Mahabharata, and thus recaptures India’s cultural heritage through the ages. The episodes depicted on the panels are taken from the life of Lord Krishna.

The 747s have pink and blue panels in alternate zones. The Maharajah lounge in it introduces the passenger to yet another age of beauty and grace-the peerless Gupta age.

With the arrival of the jumbo, expected to be in service from next month. India has entered a new phase of jet operations.

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