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Debasish Banerjee: The man who flew his Aircraft from US to Ranchi and all for a promise

It was in 1983, when Dr Banerjee promised his mother, who was suffering from breast cancer that he will return to Ranchi one day in his own plane

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DrDebasish Banerjee Image Source: Indiatoday.in
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  • Banerjee travelled from the US to Ranchi only to keep his promise he made to his mother 33 years back
  • It took whopping Rs. 35 lakh, three years of struggle to work out the permissions for him to fly to Ranchi
  • Banerjee also flew his beloved Rebecca, his aircraft with an aim to spread awareness about diabetes

While every day we encounter people who are too used to break their promise, it is heart-warming to know someone who readily travels that extra mile and too literally, just to keep a promise, he made 33 years back.

The ride from the US to Ranchi wasn’t an easy one for Professor Debasish Banerjee.  He took off from Macon County airport in Franklin, North Carolina, on May 31 on his plane and reached Hyderabad on June 23, flying through Canada, Greenland, Iceland, Scotland, England, France, Italy, Greece, Jordan, UAE and Oman.

It was in 1983 when Dr Banerjee promised his mother, who was suffering from breast cancer that he will return to Ranchi one day in his own plane.

India Today quoted as Banerjee saying, “I had told my mother, one day I will return in my own aircraft and you will be proud of your son and here I am, in my hometown after 33 years.”

Dr Banerjee with a photo of his deceased mother. Image Source: ndtv.com
Dr Banerjee with a photo of his deceased mother. Image Source: ndtv.com

Though that was the last time he spoke to his mother, yet the promise he made was etched in his heart even after three long decades.

It took whopping Rs. 35 lakh, three years of struggle to work out the permissions and tonnes of exhaustion from navigating the single-engine aircraft through 14 counties to keep up the promise.

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Talking about the problems faced during the journey, Banerjee detailed that while flying through the UK, his aircraft experienced malfunctioning in the magnetos and vertical trim tab and also got its left wheel pant damaged.

The 65-year-old professor got his flying licence in 2005 and allowing him to spend the next few years undertaking smaller solo missions whenever time permitted.

Apart from the urge to keep his promise, Banerjee also flew his beloved Rebecca (as he calls his aircraft) with an aim to spread awareness about diabetes.

His aircraft – Cessna 182 – had the words ‘raising awareness of diabetes’ painted on the tail, throughout his long journey.

Talking about the problems faced during the journey, Banerjee detailed that while flying through the UK, his aircraft experienced malfunctioning in the magnetos and vertical trim tab and also got its left wheel pant damaged.

Banerjee at KC Roy Memorial Hospital in Ranchi said to India Today, “I felt that people can lead a better life by controlling their blood sugar and thus I decided to make them aware in whatever way I can,” quoted The Telegraph.

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He further said, “I am an adventurous person but this one is really a big challenge with my present aircraft,” and added that he had fitted an additional fuel tank for the journey across oceans.

After staying for three days in Ranchi, Banerjee flew to Calcutta on July 2, resuming his flight path back to the USA through Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, Philippines and Japan.

Banerjee graduated from St Xavier’s College and later learnt flying after he shifted to the USA.

-This article is modified by Bulbul Sharma, a staff-writer at NewsGram.

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  • Aparna Gupta

    This shows that he is a truly Indian. Indian worship their mothers as God and he fulfilled the promise made to his mother.

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20 Facts to Know About India’s Indigenous Fighter Plane: Tejas

The dream of having a squadron of the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has been realized, after years of delay.

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Tejas employs Y-shaped air inlets and a generous coating of radar-absorbing materials over the control surfaces. Wikimedia Commons
Tejas employs Y-shaped air inlets and a generous coating of radar-absorbing materials over the control surfaces. Wikimedia Commons
  • Tejas is the first indigenously Built Fighter Aircraft By India of International Standards
  • The plans are to acquire over 80 aircraft with better specifications, known as Tejas 1A in the future
  • Tejas is a four plus generation aircraft

Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) of the Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is the first indigenously Built Fighter Aircraft By India of International Standards. The dream of having a squadron of the indigenous Tejas Light Combat Aircraft has been realized, after years of delay. In a ceremony in Bengaluru, two LCA aircraft was been inducted into the IAF squadron, known as the ‘Flying Daggers 45’.

on 4th January 2001, the light combat aircraft made its first flight. Wikimedia Commons
on 4th January 2001, the light combat aircraft made its first flight. Wikimedia Commons

For first two years, the LCA squadron will be based in Bengaluru, after which it will move to Sulur in Tamil Nadu.

Also Read: First indigenous Combat Plane of India enters service after 33 Years

The Air Force has said that the aircraft will feature in the force’s combat plan next year and it might be deployed in forward bases as well. The plans are to acquire over 80 aircraft with better specifications, known as Tejas 1A in the future.

Take a look at some of the amazing facts related to the pride of our nation, Tejas.

  1. In 1984, Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA) was set up by the government to develop the LCA programme and in 1986, Rs 575 crores were allocated by the then government towards funding the programme.
  2. Finally, on 4th January 2001, the light combat aircraft made its first flight which was a significant milestone in the Indian aviation industry.
  3. When the project was initially launched, it would have cost India just Rs 7,000 crore ( USD 1 Billion Dollar ) – peanuts when compared to costs of similar aircraft in the world. The DRDO is also working on making an advanced version of the aircraft with twin engines.
  4. Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) will replace the MiG-21 series. The aircraft is a result of several years of design and development nearly 3 decades works from the DRDO.
  5. The aim of the LCA program was to deliver the best single engine lightweight fighter in the world. The programme was started in the 1980s to replace India’s ageing MiG-21 fighters. LCA was officially named “Tejas” by the then Prime Minister Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee in 2003 which means “Radiant” in Sanskrit.

    To assist the development of the navy variants of Tejas, a shore-based testing facility was created in Goa. Wikimedia Commons
    To assist the development of the navy variants of Tejas, a shore-based testing facility was created in Goa. Wikimedia Commons
  6. Tejas is capable of flying non-stop to destinations over 1700 km away and its Radius of Action is up to 500 km depending upon the nature and duration of actual combat.
  7. The Defense Research and Development Organization are developing four versions of Tejas – LCA and LCA trainer for the Indian Air Force and Indian Navy. To assist the development of the navy variants of the aircraft, a shore-based testing facility was created in Goa, including a ramp that mimics the takeoff/landing deck of an aircraft carrier.
  8. Tejas aircraft is the best in its class around the world. It is a four plus generation aircraft. The wings are made entirely of composite structures and have a totally digital fly-by-wire control system.
  9. One of the major features that make the Tejas a unique aircraft is its ‘unstable configuration’ technique with which it has been built. The aircraft’s design is unstable as the unstable design makes it extremely manoeuvrable, giving it a distinct edge over its competitors when it comes to dogfights. To put it in simple words, between a bike and a car, a car is much more stable but is unable to exhibit the same manoeuvrability as a bike. Combat aircraft need to be highly manoeuvrable.
  10. Tejas has a pure double delta wing configuration with no tailplanes or canard and a single dorsal fin. The aircraft is integrated with relaxed static stability, fly-by-wire flight control system, multi-mode radar and a flat rated engine. The aircraft is smallest and lightest in its class of contemporary supersonic combat aircraft.
  11. The Tejas is the second supersonic fighter being developed by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) after the HAL HF-24 Marut. In 2016, the Tejas MK1 was in production for the Indian Air Force (IAF) and the naval version was undergoing flight tests for Indian Navy (IN). The present requirement for Air Force is 200 single-seat fighters and 20 twin-seat trainers, while the Indian Navy expects to operate 40 single-seat fighters.
  12. The first Tejas unit was formed on 1 July 2016 with two aircraft. The existing Tejas are stationed at Bangalore and the first squadron will be placed at its home base at Sulur, Tamil Nadu
  13. Most of the military equipment producing companies are investing significantly in radars to detect incoming aircraft and air defence systems to shoot them down, stealth is the new cornerstone of any new aircraft development. The basic idea is to keep the Radar Cross Section (RCS) as low as possible.
  14. Tejas employs various features to keep the RCS low which includes extensive use of composite materials (which do not reflect radar waves), Y-shaped air inlets and a generous coating of radar-absorbing materials over the control surfaces.

    Tejas body structure is composed of 42% carbon fibre composites, 43% aluminium alloy and the remainder titanium alloy. Wikimedia Commons
    Tejas body structure is composed of 42% carbon fibre composites, 43% aluminium alloy and the remainder titanium alloy. Wikimedia Commons
  15. Tejas has 8 weapon hardpoints, three under each wing, one under the central body and one under the air inlets on the left side of the plane. This allows Tejas to use a wide range of the weapon systems. The weapons include air-to-surface (including anti-ship) missiles, mid and close-range air-to-air missiles, precision-guided weapons, conventional bombs, cluster bombs and unguided rockets. The pylons can carry a maximum of 4 tons of weapons. These weapons are in addition to the plane’s main gun, a 23mm twin barreled cannon with 220 rounds.
  16. The aircraft also integrates a ‘glass cockpit’ in which information is displayed ‘real-time’ to the pilot. It also has open architecture software for avionics and DRDO can update it as and when required.
  17. The Tejas prototypes had completed over 1000 test flights and over 530 hours of flight testing by January 2009. In 2013 only, there were over 450 test flights. The various prototypes underwent rigorous training in hot weather in Jaisalmer at the peak of summers. For freezing cold weather and high altitude testing, the planes were taken to Ladakh.
  18. Tejas comes loaded with Multi-Mode Weapon multirole capability. It can fire Laser Guided Bombs, has passed all the tests for “All Weather Clearance” and has been cleared for fly without any telemetry support. Due to it weaponry capabilities, the IAF to carry out forward airfield operations, air superiority and offensive air support missions, all-weather multi-role operations, electronic countermeasures and night flying operations.
  19. Tejas body structure is composed of 42% carbon fibre composites, 43% aluminium alloy and the remainder titanium alloy.
  20. In 2016, the aircraft participated in its first foreign show at the Bahrain International Air Show 2016. There Tejas was compared to Pakistan’s JF-17 Thunder (a Pakistani aircraft, manufactured with the help of China).