The capital’s own flying academy is literally flying high. The Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology opened a new hangar for its aircraft on Wednesday, and stands to get a new twin-engine aircraft plus an airstrip.
Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, inaugurating the hangar, said that a twin-engine plane was essential for properly training the cadets. ‘’We had earmarked Rs 6 crore in the 2012-13 budget for purchasing one. The funds will be used to purchase the aircraft soon,’’ he said.
Ports and Excise Minister K Babu said that the government would launch measures to equip the academy, which is run by the state government, with an airstrip of its own.
The academy began as the Kerala Flying Club in 1959, the brainchild of Col G V Raja. In 2006, it was renamed as Rajiv Gandhi Academy for Aviation Technology and is today the proud owner of four Cessna 172 R aircraft, two of which are equipped with glass cockpits. The academy also has plans to purchase a CTLS light-sport aircraft.
In the long run, there is a plan to open a College of Engineering in Aeronautics Science and Technology.
On Wednesday, the academy also opened another new possession - a decommissioned MiG-27 fighter aircraft gifted by the Indian Air Force - to the public. The Ports Minister also presented ‘wings’ to four cadets who completed their first solo flight.
Air Marshal A P Garud, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief of the Southern Air Command and academy executive vice chairman G Chandramouli were among those present.