Sankpal with daughter Arny and family members at Sonari Airport on Monday. Picture by Bhola Prasad
Jamshedpur beheld its first birthday party in the sky, thanks to a doting dad from Bokaro.
More than a month after its touted launch at Sonari Airport, Celebration Flight lived up to its name on Monday afternoon when project manager of Gomia-based Indian Explosives Limited (IEL) Sachin Sankpal travelled 270km with his extended family to host daughter Arny’s third birthday on board a 10-seater Cessna Grand Caravan.
The flight of fancy — brainchild of Bangalore-based DTDS Travel and Tour Planner Limited that also operates biweekly services between Jamshedpur and Calcutta in alliance with Spirit Air — was officially made available from February 14. However, it had found no takers because of its steep price — a 45-minute bash costs nothing less than Rs 40,000 — until 37-year-old Sankpal decided on this unique gift for Arny.
“Celebrations were to happen at 9,000ft over Jamshedpur. Initially, I was both hesitant and nervous, but my wife Anuradha said we should give it a try. She said Arny would love it,” the loving father, whose favourite pastime is conjuring up extraordinary presents for his two daughters, said.
The birthday flight took off at 2.30pm and after the mid-air revelry, the IEL executive was all praises for DTDS.
“It was way more than what we expected. The charges (around Rs 50,000 including refreshment, decorations and a photo op) seemed quite less compared to the excitement and — most importantly — the smile on Arny’s face. The seasoned pilot and cordial flight attendant made the occasion very memorable for us,” Sankpal said.
Besides her parents, elder sister six-year-old Aarya, paternal grandparents V.B. Sankpal and Vasudha Sankpal, and maternal grandparents Uttam Bajare and Sushma Bajare accompanied little Arny on her dream birthday in the clouds.
“It was a great photo opportunity, which was again taken care of by DTDS officials who arranged for a lensman. Then, there was cake and refreshment for all. The cake was cut when the plane reached 9,000ft and Arny beamed over her surprise gift — a box of chocolates from DTDS,” Sankpal said.
He added that the birthday girl was even offered a seat in the cockpit. “It was for a brief two minutes during descent, but my little angel was so thrilled to make that touchdown. She was also given a certificate of a performed flight signed by the captain.”
DTDS manager (sales) in Calcutta Shyamal Chakraborty reminded that the Celebration Flight was also available for engagements and wedding anniversaries, or any other special occasion for that matter.