BENGALURU: The honour of serving as the Commander of the first non-stop flight from Bengaluru to San Francisco goes to Bengaluru-born Chanappa Venkatdas Madhu, a pilot with a rich flying experience of 24 years.
There is much euphoria and joy over this flight but the 48-year-old resident of Yelahanka is absolutely chilled about the long flight he is set to fly on Monday at 2.30 pm from Kempegowda International Airport (KIA).
Madhu, who always wanted to be a pilot, joined Air India in December 1996, will be at the helm when steering its longest commercial flight.
Senior captains, Captain Desmond, Captain Karan Agarwal and co-pilot Simranjit Singh will occupy the cockpit with him on AI 175.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, Madhu said in a lighter vein, "Yes, I will be the only son-of-the-soil steering inside the cabin! I will definitely make an announcement in Kannada after I take-off along with English and Hindi this time. It will be the usual stuff the Commander says about himself, colleagues and the flight."
The experience is clearly not overwhelming for him. "For me, it is like every other flight trip. I have 10,000 hours of flying. I began my career as an international pilot and have flown everywhere around the world in my career. I have flown the Airbus 300, Jumbo jet 747, Boeing 737 and it will be the Boeing 777 from Bengaluru on Monday."
There is one difference this time though, he adds.
"Whenever I flew to different cities in the US or most other countries, I always had to fly from Mumbai or Delhi. It is for the first time that I will begin my long trip from my hometown," Madhu added.
Is there any major fear associated with flying during COVID-time?
"We are taking all precautions. I have been flying since July this year and there is no major fear associated. All of have taken covid-tests and got the results. The other pilots will come from their hometowns and rest for a day here before the trip."
With father C Venkatdas serving as an aeronautical engineer at HAL, the choice of taking to the skies was an automatic one for him.
After schooling at Poorna Pragna Educational Centre and St Joseph's PU College, he completed his Civil Engineering at BMS College of Engineering. "I had always accompanied my father to Aero-shows and aviation related events. I joined Jakkur Flying School 30 years ago and later got trained at Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi at UP. I joined Air India 24 years ago."
His wife Wife G Meena is a homemaker and older son Adeith (Class 9) is showing an interest in taking after his father's career. He has another son Dwedeith (Class IV).
So will his family join him on the flight or watch him take-off? "Not at all. They have come with me on so many flights."