Today in Transportation History – 1948: Air India’s 1st International Flight Takes Off

Air India, which is now India’s national airline, achieved a major milestone with its first international flight. The plane used for this flight was a Lockheed Constellation L-749A aircraft named Malabar Princess. The plane, which was piloted by Captain K.R. Guzdar, flew out of Bombay (now known as Mumbai) for its pioneering 5,000-mile journey to London. Malabar Princess made two refueling stops en route at Cairo and Geneva and reached London about 24 hours after the takeoff from Bombay.

Air India originated 16 years earlier when it was founded by French-born Jehangir Ratanji Dadabhoy Tata, who was India’s first licensed pilot and has become known as the father of Indian civil aviation. His company was first called Tata Airlines; the name was changed to India Air in 1946. Tata was among the 35 passengers who flew on Malabar Princess for that history-making trip to London.

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