INDIA Issued Stamps and MS on 100 Years of Civil Aviation

\"\"\"\"\"\"By Dinu

India Post has today issued four stamps and a Miniature Sheet(quantity-2lakhs) to commemorate 100 years of civil aviation in the country.Indian Civil Aviation completed 100 years on 18th February, 2011.  The year 2011-12 was declared as the Civil Aviation Centenary Year, starting from 18th February, 2011 and ending on the same date in 2012.  On this date in 1911, the first commercial plane flew in India between Allahabad and Naini.  Since then, aviation in India has grown from strength to strength. Today India is the 9th largest civil aviation market in the world and this forward march is likely to culminate in India becoming one of the three largest markets in the world by 2020. 


100 Years of Civil Aviation in India – Milestones

By Maushumi Chakravarty


· On 18 February, 1911 the first commercial civil aviation flight took place in India between Allahabad and Naini, a distance of 6 miles when Henri Piquet  carried 6500 mails on a Humber biplane.  This is considered to be the world’s first airmail service and the beginning of civil aviation in India.

· In December 1912, the Indian State Air Services  in collaboration with UK based Imperial Airways  introduced   the London -Karachi – Delhi  flight,  the first International flight to and from  India. 

· In 1915 Tata Sons Ltd. started regular air mail services between Karachi and Madras and on January 24, 1920 Royal Airforce started regular airmail services between Karachi and Bombay.

· Construction of Civil Airports in India started  in 1924. Constructions began in Calcutta at Dum Dum, Allahabad at Bamrauli and in Bombay in Gilbert Hill.

· April 1927 saw the setting up of a separate Department of Civil Aviation to look after all civil aviation matters.  That year also saw the establishment of  Aero Club of India.

· In February 1929,  JRD Tata was awarded the first pilot license by Federation Aeronautique International on behalf of the Aero Club of India and Burma.  The same year Aga Khan announced a solo air race between London and Bombay.    There were three  participants – JRD Tata, Man Mohan Singh and Aspy Merchant .  The race was won by Man Mohan Singh.

· Lt.Col. Shelmerdine was appointed first Director general of Civil Aviation(DGCA)  in 1931 to look after civil aviation regulatory issues.

· In 1932 Tata Airlines came to being as a division of Tata Sons Limited.  It started Air Mail services on the Karachi, Ahmedabad, Bombay, Bellary, Madras routes on 15 October. The same year, 1932 also saw the first Indian woman, Urmila K. Parikh  get a pilot’s license. 

· Between 1933 and 1934 a number of Indian airlines – Indian Trans Continental Airways, Madras Air Taxi Services, Indian National Airways etc., commenced operations.

· The Indian Aircraft Act was promulgated in 1934 and was formulated in 1937.

· Hindustan Aeronautics Limited(HAL) set up by Walchand Hirachand in association with the then Mysore Government in 1940 at Bangalore.

· India’s first aircraft, the Harlow trainer was rolled out for test flight in July 1941.

· In 1945 the  Deccan Airways was founded – jointly owned by the Nizam of Hyderabad and Tatas.   Its first flight began  in July 1946.  In 1946 ‘Air India’ came into being when  Tata Airlines changed its name to Air India.

· In 1948 Air India signed an agreement with the Government  to operate international services under the name Air India International Ltd.  On June 8 the same year Air India  inaugurated   its international services with a weekly flight between Bombay  and London via Cairo and Geneva.

· In 1948 Prem Mathur became the first woman commercial pilot and started flying for Deccan Airways.  She obtained her commercial pilot’s license in 1947.

· In March 1953 the Indian Parliament passed the Air Corporations Act, and Indian Airlines and Air India International were set up after nationalisation of the entire airline industry.  At this time eight formerly independent domestic airlines: Deccan Airways, Airways India, Bharat Airways, Himalyan Aviation, Kalinga Air Lines, Indian National Airways, Air India, Air Services of India were merged.

· 1953 also saw the introduction of  India’s  Civil Helicopter Services.

· In 1956 Ms. Durba Banerjee was  inducted as the first woman pilot of Indian Airlines.

· In 1960  India entered  the jet age with the introduction of Boeing 707-437 into the fleet of Air India and USA was connected to India for the first time by an Indian airline flight.

· In 1972 the  International Airports Authority of India (IAAI) was constituted  and  Vayudoot  airlines (a government owned airline company) started  operation in the year 1981.

· In 1984  Squadron Leader Rakesh Sharma of Indian Air Force becomes the first Indian cosmonaut and the 138th man in  space spending 8  days in space abroad Salyut 7.

· In  1985  Captain Saudamini Deshmukh commanded the first all women crew flight on an Indian Airlines Fokker friendship F-27 on the Calcutta-Silchar route. She also commanded the first Boeing all-women crew flight on September 1989 on the Mumbai-Goa sector.  

· 1985 also saw the establishment of Pawan Hans Helicopters Limited(PHHL)  and the establishment of  Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Academy (IGRUA) in Fursatganj, Rai Bareli in Uttar Pradesh for training of pilots.

· 1985 was also a very traumatic year for Indian aviation when Air India flight AI 182 between Montreal and Delhi was blown up by terrorists over the Atlantic Ocean.   Following this, the  Bureau of Civil Aviation Security was established in 1987.

· The National Airports Authority was constituted in 1986.

· In 1989  Indian Airlines became one of the earliest airline of the world to induct A320s type of aircraft from the Airbus company.

· 1990-91 saw the entry of private airlines after the de-regulation of the civil aviation sector.  Private airlines were given permission to operate charter and non-scheduled services under the ‘Air Taxi’ Scheme.  The East West Airlines was  the first national level private airline to operate in the country after almost 37 years.

· In 1990 Captain Nivedita Bhasin of Indian Airlines  at 26 became the youngest pilot in civil aviation history to command a jet aircraft. She also  became the first woman check pilot on an Airbus A300 aircraft.  

· 1990 was also a land-mark year for Indian civil aviation and Air India when  Air India entered  the Guinness Book of World Records for largest evacuation effort by a single civilian airline when it flew  over1,11,000  people from Amman to Mumbai in 59 days operating 488 flights just before the Gulf war began.

· In 1994, following the repeal of the Air Corporation Act private airlines were permitted to operate scheduled services  and a number of private players including Jet Airways, Air Sahara, Modiluft, Damania Airways, NEPC Airlines and East West Airlines commenced domestic operations.

· In 1995 India’s six private airlines accounted for more than 10% of domestic traffic.   Many foreign airlines started providing international services.  In 1995, 42 airlines operated air services to, from, and through India.

· In 1995 Airport Authority of India (AAI) was  constituted after the merging of the International Airport Authority of India with National Airports Authority. 

· In 1998 Dr. Kalpana Chawla became the first Indian-born woman to fly to space as part of a NASA team.  1998 also saw the first  Private Airport come up in the country in  Cochin, Kerala.

· 1999 was another tragic year in the history of Indian civil aviation when the IC 814 flight of Indian Airlines was hijacked to Kandahar.

· 2003 saw the ushering in all the ‘Low Cost Carriers’ in the country when   Air Deccan started its services.

· In 2004 Government approved setting up of private airports at Hyderabad and Banglore. 

· In the December of 2004 Indian Scheduled carriers with a minimum of 5 years of continuous operations and a minimum fleet size  of 20 aircraft, were permitted to operate scheduled services to international destinations. 

· 2005 saw the rebranding of Indian Airlines as Indian.  It also saw the entry of the Kingfisher Airlines.  This year the Government designated Air India, Indian Airlines, Jet Airways and Air Sahara  to operate international services.

· In 2006 the Government approved the restructuring and modernization of  Mumbai and Delhi Airport through Public Private Partnership. 

· 2007 saw the Regional Airlines  Policy  being  announced wherein licenses were given for operation of  airlines within a particular region. 

· In 2008  the path breaking  Greenfield Airports Policy  of the Government was announced.

· To regulate the economic aspects of airports, the Parliament passed the Airports Economic Regulatory Authority(AERA)  Bill and the AERA was set up in 2009.

· The brand new integrated terminal T-3 was inaugurated in New Delhi’s Indira Gandhi International Airport in July 2010 and in December 2010 Pawan Hans started its Sea Plane Services Jal  Hans.

· At present India is the 9th largest aviation market in the world with 82 operational airports, 735 aircraft, 12 operational scheduled airlines and 121 non-scheduled operators.  The number of air passengers travelling in India is expected to cross 50 million this year. (PIB Features)

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19 Responses to INDIA Issued Stamps and MS on 100 Years of Civil Aviation

  1. ANIL KR PUJARA says:

    Commendable Reporting n Coverage.Well Done . Congrats n pl keep it up.

  2. Dinu says:

    It is a well researched article – Kudos to Maushumiji.

    By the way one update – today in Sansad Marg HPO , Delhi – miniature sheets of this issue are not available (I am going back dejected – 1430hrs/ IST) as the person, in whose custody those are kept (treasurer? – from my past experiences I have seen , earlier it was Mr. Ramacharan , now there lot of change has taken place except the attitude, they are never available on the day of issue) not available and am advised to come back tomorrow. Obnserved a new phenomenon that more than one Full sheet per person can not be sold.

    Just for information to philatelist. surely I have to again go back tomorrow (cost me Rs. 100 both way + half day leave) to get them.

    This is the dismal picture of HPO.
    Only breather there is/ was two or three of older staff on whom most of the philatelist could have sworn.

  3. Aayush says:

    Dinuji, Best is to be in touch with the director or someone in the bureau and call the director or that person before going.. I personally make sure of doing that whenever new issues are released..

  4. Aayush says:

    The only thing that I liked about the issue is that one of my fav blue shades is used in the m/s but its not that visible on the stamp.. pity!

    If one has to benchmark Indian stamps, I will place Indian princely states, Indian commonwealth games queen baton and commonwealth games issues as some of the best issued stamps by India post..


    Thanks Maushumiji,
    Great compilation of dates about Indian Aviation.
    I have taken a print-out & put it in the right place
    for ready reference.


    The designer artist is of Civil Aviation stamps is certainly going
    to cry foul with ISP etc. as from the computer images one can
    clearly see that the skies are too dark hued even on a backlit
    Hope, physically,these stamps are not as dark & dull printed as
    several other previous issues in the past.
    In hindsight, India Post should have printed 2 se-tenants, that
    would have covered the subject nicely & also pleased stamp
    lovers no end.
    Of late, lack of brightness,contrast,color-separateness & color
    saturation are missing from most indian issues.

  7. Dinu says:

    I have those stamps and on same theme from Singapore.
    Comparing –
    I never expected such a dull and uncontrasted design from Mr. Kamleshswar Singh on such a beautiful theme. Might be ISP, Nashik killed the beautiful issue.
    To my untrained eye the issue is kiiled same way like Pt. Santanam and Rashtrapati Bhawan.
    Might be the fault is not of designer.
    The Less said about paper quality is the better.
    Stamps are of very small size compared to the vastness of object covered. ESIC, IIC equivalent stamp size could have been added glory to it.

    We lost chance for a fabulous setenant here.
    No comment on MS quality as I yet to have those.

  8. Ricardo C. Guarde says:

    My kudos to Maushumi’s commendable research of India’s 100 years Aviation Research. I learned a lot about India’s aviation history thru philately. My warmest thanks.

  9. ANIL KR PUJARA says:

    India Post is doing commendable job in DISAPPOINTING philatelists. What PCI is doing needs to be looked into. Golden opportunity lost in issuing SETENANT N SHEETLET.Like Coast Guard it could have been issued in Individual Sheets n Sheetlehen formatts n mixed sheets also. Then colour n design is also not very attractive. The format is also very depressive. A beautiful theme n opportunity lost miserably.Permanently Confused Institution(PCI) NEEDS REVIVAL BADLY.

  10. N.A. Mirza says:

    Dear Mr. Chakravatry:
    Indeed a commendable researched chronology worth preserving. No one can imagine the efforts a writer puts in to collect such a meticulous data.
    Please permit me to add one more milestone – the inland airmail service – in the hundred-yerar-old civil history of India since your chronology contains mentions of airmail services.
    Inland Air Mail Services was the innovation of Rafi Ahmed Kidwai, Transport and Communication minister in the Jawaharlal Nehru Cabinet in the 1950s.

    Kidwai’s three bold and ever lasting innovations earned him popularity and respect from every corner. A 20 paise commemorative was issued on him on April 04, 1969, some 15 years after his death in 1954 (at last).

    The first, and ever lasting, innovation was the introduction of night airmail scheme known then as “All Up Airmail Scheme”, linking major airport cities of Bombay (now Mumbai), Calcutta (now Kolkatta), Delhi and Madras with Nagpur. Night flights from these airports would carry the mail which helped the mail to reach their recepients within two or three days instead of seven/eight days Railway Mail Service would take. Later, small cities and districts close to the airport too were added to Air Mail Scheme.

    Since we are philatelists let me mention here Kidwai’s second innovation and that was introduction of “Inland Letter” – a meritorious service that remains to date his legacy.

    Improvements at the post offices followed as third master plan.
    N.A. Mirza

    • Dinu says:

      Was not the Inland letter known as “poor men’s envelope”?

      Mr. Kidwai once had spent time standing in Q in Calcutta (?) GPO to know about functioning and then took some commendable action.

      Whereas nowadays it seems agenda is to big for responsible.
      Lot of stuff has changed in Sansad marg , even the most helpful faces (helpful to collectors) have disappeared, and the attitude and knowledge (on philately) of people manning the counter lefts lot of unanswered question.

  11. Sandeep says:

    Just stumbled over an issue, 1982, October 15th:
    Title: 50 years of Civil Aviation 1932 – 1982
    Featuring: JRD Tata standing in front of Puss Moth
    FV: 325.
    A question:
    If we need to make a thematic display; how to justify if Civil Aviation completed 50 years in 1982 , then how come its centenary is in 2012?
    1982+50 = 2012? or 2012-100 = 1932?
    Someone please help me out.

    I cannot leave without commending the article by Madam MAUSHUMI CHAKRAVARTY, Director (M&C). I hope she reads this.

  12. R.K.MISHRA says:

    Many thanks to Sri Dinu jee and M s Maushumi Chakravarty for bringing a good work,
    I indorse the view of Sri Pujara in Toto,

    ANIL KR PUJARA says:
    India Post is doing commendable job in DISAPPOINTING philatelists. What PCI is doing needs to be looked into. Golden opportunity lost in issuing SETENANT N SHEETLET.Like Coast Guard it could have been issued in Individual Sheets n Sheetlehen formatts n mixed sheets also. Then colour n design is also not very attractive. The format is also very depressive. A beautiful theme n opportunity lost miserably.Permanently Confused Institution(PCI) NEEDS REVIVAL BADLY.

  13. SUNIL KUMAR GARG says:

    India Post is quite malleable. They issue personality stamps
    like wheat-chaff. Then, JRD Tata is was not ordinary mortal.
    They wanted to honor him & they celebrated his Puss Moth
    Flight. Read hagiographies about him & one can find several
    such moments on which a commemorative could be
    suitable issued. We got just 1- what’s the problem?
    I am more worried about how India Post has rubbished the
    crntenary of civil aviation issue 2012 .

  14. Dinu says:

    I think the question put forward by Sandeepji (On March 17, 2012 at 1703 hours) is misunderstood

    Only a clarification was asked – it has not pointed anywhere that Why JD’s stamp was issued.

    Issue here is
    The publication quoted by Sandeepji says that 50 years of Civil aviation in India is calculated here from 1932 – 1982.
    Then Civil avaition centenary should have come in 2032 – it has got nothing to do with JD.

    Maushumiji pointes out that first Civil aviation started with the famous Naini flight at 1911.

    I think that 1911 was the first civilian use of a plane for Cargo (Pilot is excluded) – however, the plane was not part of any commercial registered airlines . I have no idea even if that had a tail sign like the one we see today (VT – India, HB Swiss air, etc. etc. ). As far as I know this practice did not continue.
    Most possibly Tata airlines were first commercially registered company to start with continuous Air mail service on regular basis.

    So, the question is how to clear this confusion .
    Everyone thinks that 1911 – 2011 is correct the publication says 1932 – 2032 is correct.

    Can anyone including Ministry of Civil avaiation, India post & GOI give a definite authoratative answer as a clarification about how the start of civil aviation is calculated? I mean which year and why?

    This is the way I see the question and therefore cannot understand the post by Sunil Garg saab (March 20, 2012 , 2030 hrs)

  15. SUNIL KUMAR GARG says:

    Dear Dinu Jee,
    India Post has celebrated important aviation milestones, 100 yrs
    in 2011, 1oo Yrs in 2012 & 50 Yrs. in 1982.
    India Post has NOT celebrated other important aviation milestones in
    1965,1970,1974 & 1977. All Golden Jubilees.

  16. aneesh says:

    terribly low quality printing… why do they print stamps like this for such a nice theme.. feels very sad

  17. swarnali das says:

    seriously a low grade quality of printing for such a celebrated event..

  18. Dinu says:

    Dear Ms. Swarnali,

    Just out of curiosity shall like to know (Please note that I do not do or like practical joke)
    – are you new into philately. If yes, welcome to the world of this exciting hobby.
    – If not, then, it appears that you have come to this site first time. If yes, then again congrats that you have not only chosen a nice hobby but also a fantastic site where you shall have many information.
    – If not, then did you receive the MS + Stamps after so long as you are commenting on the quality , to which all of us have agreed, after such a long time. If yes, that you have received the MS now I think it is high time you should take up the issue with Post office where you have the PDAC.

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