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Tributes fly high for high-flier named Jeh

- JRD Tata fittingly remembered on 110th birth anniversary with aeromodelling displays

The man who sat in the cockpit of Indian industry for decades had become India’s first licensed pilot way back in 1929.

No wonder, on the birth anniversary of JRD Tata, Bharat Ratna, Tata Sons chairman and civil aviation pioneer, visiting Sonari aerodrome has become a tradition in Jamshedpur over the years. On Tuesday, his 110th birth anniversary was celebrated at the airport with 20 working models of helicopters, quadcopters and aeroplanes as the main attraction.

Ruchi Narendran, social worker and wife of Tata Steel managing director T.V. Narendran, inaugurated the exhibition in front of an enthusiastic crowd, some 1,000 students among them.

The audience watched a spectacular static display of six aircraft and a show where members of Jamshedpur Aeromodelling Club and Aeromodelling Club of Calcutta presented their models run on electric batteries and methanol fuel.

The oldest aircraft in the static display was the yellow Pushpak MK1 made in 1965 with its single engine, wooden propeller and fabric covering.

Most aero-models are either made of thermocol, lightweight balsa wood or fibre. Methanol and castor oil as planet-friendly fuel were a conscious choice. Batteries powered many aero-models.

“This is a tradition we look forward too. There is an inseparable connection between JRD Tata and aviation,” said B.K. Singh, secretary of Jamshedpur Aeromodelling Club.

“We love to display our aircraft here because there are so many visitors. One is made of thermocol and battery-operated, another one is made of balsa and runs on methanol,” said Arpam Bhadra, who came all the way from Calcutta.

An exhibition on the life and times of JRD Tata was also inaugurated at the airport.

Born on July 20, 1904, JRD or Jeh as he was fondly called by those who knew him, lived to be ripe old age of 89, playing a pivotal role in the country’s public life as an industrialist, philanthropist, passionate aviator and family planning pioneer.

In fact, in 1992, the year he received the Bharat Ratna, Tata also got the United Nations Population Award for initiating family planning programmes.

The day’s other events included sit-and-draw competitions, mother and child health check-up camps, a marathon and other such programmes.