By- Sudhir Jain
During INDIPEX 73 each day was celebrated with special theme. 16th November 1973 was celebrated as AIR MAIL DAY. On this day Airmail Society of India had organized a special event of Balloon flight in front of the exhibition venue Hall of Nations. The Balloon ‘Udan Khatola’ had carried 2000 serial numbered special covers duly cancelled with the special cancellation of that day. One such special cover of Sl. No. 1784 is exhibited here bearing all the four stamps issued during INDIPEX 73 with the Special Cancellation of AIR MAIL DAY..I was present there on that day i.e. 16th November 1973 and fortunately entered into the balloon just after it’s return to the ground. I had some special covers of INDIPEX 73 with me and taken the signatures of both the pilots of the Balloon in the balloon itself. One of them was Chief Pilot Mr. Vishwa Bandhu Gupta who was the man behind this Ballooning event. He had also written the location “Balloon” and date “16.11.73” after his signature. One such cover is also exhibited here.Mr. Vishwa Bandhu Gupta was the first Indian to whom hot air balloon license was given on 15th November 1972 at Livermore, California, U.S.A. ‘Udan Khatola’ was the first Indian hot air balloon built by the Ballooning club of India on 20th September 1973. It had its inaugural flight at Safdarganj airport on 7th October 1973. I am sorry, I have forgot the name and details of the other signatory. Can any reader identify the second signature?