Many of us have the financial resources to travel by air but there are also many impoverished Indians who can only dream about the same. They can’t afford a hefty sum to buy an airline ticket.
Giving wings to their dream, Bahadur Chand Gupta, 58, who hails from Haryana, helps them to experience the joy of sitting inside an aeroplane.
How? Gupta fulfills it through a ‘Flight to Nowhere’. The retired Indian Airlines engineer, bought an old Airbus 300 in 2003 for Rs.6 lakh, rebuilt it, and let people experience what it is like to fly for just Rs.60. And for those, who can’t even afford this sum, they experience it for free.
The airbus is parked on the outskirts South-West Delhi and is mostly visited by children and the underprivileged people.
He says he started off with adults, but later he began to take groups of schoolchildren.
“I come from a small village in Haryana state called Kasan. I was the first person from there to qualify as an engineer. When I went to work for India Airlines in Delhi it was a very big thing. None of them had ever flown and many of them used to ask if I could take them inside a plane. Saying no always made me feel very uncomfortable and disappointed. After some time I began to think that I should do something outside of the airport. Then this plane came up for sale and I bought it.”
With help of former colleagues, he rebuilt the plane in 10 months.
“I could have made money if I had broken up the plane and sold off all the parts, but I didn’t want to do that. When I had finished putting it back together, I told all the people from my village, ‘OK, now you can come and see what it is like to sit on a plane,” he says.
Not so unexpectedly, the plane became a big hit especially among children. Visitors receive the whole flight experience — from boarding passes and safety instructions to in-flight catering.
The centre now employs several staff and offers a number of fee-paying courses, including air hospitality and aircraft radio navigation systems. Gupta admits that the plane is “not a viable business,” adding that “you lose every day – but it is my passion and it feels like home to me now”. Watch the video to know more about this unique experience.