Cars go faster than this little plane

Sharath S. Srivatsa
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But the no-frills Pushpak is one of its kind, literally

Flying Club Favourite: This is the only flying Pushpak in the country. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.
Flying Club Favourite: This is the only flying Pushpak in the country. — Photo: Bhagya Prakash K.

It is a nostalgic rendezvous with Bangalore for this small fixed wing aircraft, which has flown in to participate in the eighth edition of Aero India.

Pushpak, the two-seater manufactured by the HAL in the late 1950s primarily for flying clubs, returned to the city after a long hiatus and will embark on a long journey when it takes to the skies from the Air Force Station, Yelahanka, on February 13.

Heritage journey

Brought here by the Army Aviation Corps, the Pushpak will undertake a “heritage journey” covering over 10,000 km across the country in 18 days, visiting 40 air stations en route. “This is the only flying Pushpak in the country and probably the oldest aircraft of HAL still flying,” Brigadier Amardeep Singh Sidhu, who commands an aviation base, told The Hindu.The Army Aviation Corps (AAC) is undertaking the Pushpak Expedition to commemorate the silver jubilee of the corps, and this aircraft, owned by Punjab Government, will visit all the air stations, which operated fixed wing aircrafts.

Reassembled in Patiala with the assistance of HAL and Punjab Government, this no-frills aircraft took five days to reach Bangalore. “It cruises at a speed of 100 km an hour,” Brig. Sidhu said, and added that this particular aircraft participated in the 1971 war. “Pushpaks were called into the war from flying clubs to undertake survey work. It was also a time when helicopters were not with the army,” he added.

A team of six pilots from the AAC, including Brig. Sidhu, will be taking part in the vintage journey.

“It took almost nine months to rebuild the aircraft. The HAL had produced 160 Pushpaks and given them to flying clubs,” he said and added that the aircraft will be with the ACC till November this year.

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