Never been on an airplane? Here’s your chance to board one for as little as Rs 60, or even for nothing if you don’t have the money. Retired aircraft engineer Bahadur Chand Gupta will be happy to show you around.
“I am in an aeroplane for the first time. I saw many things inside,” exclaimed an excited Jatin when he boarded the flight to nowhere.
He is one of many underprivileged kids who may never get a chance to fly on an actual plane. But he climbed the long stairway that took him to an orange and white aircraft set up on a patch of land on the outskirts of Delhi.
The plane, of course, is going nowhere. But it is giving an opportunity to people from some of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city to experience what it is like to sit on the jets they see fly above them in the sky.
When a retired aircraft engineer Bahadur Chand Gupta, who comes from the small village of Kasana in Haryana, started his career many years ago, the villagers curiously asked him what it was like to be in an aircraft. None of them had ever seen a real airplane and they wanted to get a glimpse of life in the aviation industry through Gupta’s eyes.
For security reasons, Gupta was never able to take his fellow villagers inside an actual aircraft. But he always wanted to do something that would give them a taste of flying.
Finally, in 2003, Gupta sold some land and bought an old Airbus A300. He parked it on a vacant lot close the city’s domestic airport and started offering virtual ‘flights’ to the general public.
To make the experience close to real, the ‘passengers’ in his ‘flight’ are given boarding passes, shown safety instructions, and even offered in-flight snacks. Some even get to see the cockpit.
The passengers pay as little as Rs. 60 to board this flight and some can even get to be part of it for free (depending upon their financial condition). What adds to the amazing in-flight experience is the unique evacuation practice where the kids slide out of the the aircraft instead of taking the regular stairs.
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