Just ahead of the first India-Pakistan was of 1947-48, Pakistan-sponsored militants closed in on Srinagar to claim Kashmir for the newly formed Pakistan. The Maharaja of Kashmir, Hari Singh signed the instrument of accession with India and the first and immediate task for Indian forces was to save Kashmir from the clutches of the invaders.
All would but be lost if it wasn't for the three DC-3 Dakota aircraft of No.12 Squadron that took off from Delhi with Indian troops who reached just in time to ensure that Kashmir remained a part of India.
After the first Dakota that was flown by Wing Commander KL Bhatia with 1 Sikh Regiment, 28 more DC-3 sorties were flown through the day including six civilian sorties.
Over the years, during the Sino-India war and Indo-Pakistan war of 1971, Dakota played a crucial role in logistics by para-dropping troops, material and supplies.
But after 1971, the Dakota was waned away and replaced in the Indian Army by Avro HS 748. Consecutively, the Dakotas, which had become the staple transport aircraft for the Indian Air Force was phased out and a few DC-3s were given to the Border Security Force(BSF).
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Post-1987, use of Dakotas was completely ceased after a glorious stretch of about 50 years from when it was gifted to the Royal Indian Army. On 18, February 2018, aviators who had flown the reliable Dakota for the Indian Army started a club called the Gooney Bird group to reminiscence and keep alive the memories of DC-3 by sharing anecdotes, trivia and experiences.
On October 8th, on Air Force Day, once again, the Dakota will fly in public view in New Delhi donning the Indian Air Force colours, and with the Tail number VP-905, the same as the first Dakota that saved Kashmir for India.
Rajeev Chandrashekhar, MP, gifted a Dakota DC-3 to the Indian Air Force on behalf of his father Air Commodore MK Chandrashekhar, VM, VSM (Retd.) who had flown the Gooney Bird for the Indian Air force till his retirement in 1986. After buying the aircraft in 2011, it took over 6 years to restore it to flying condition and on 26 April 2018, after crossing 8 countries over 8 days it landed at the Hindon Air Force Station, UP.
The refurbished aircraft has been named Parashurama after the sixth avatar of Lord Vishnu, believed to have come to earth to destroy evil forces, and is now part of the elite vintage aircraft collection of the Indian Air Force. Come Monday, the Dakota with tail number VP-905 will once again soar in the Indian airspace.