Flying was a novelty to most of us back then when I was a child, for both adults and children. Few aircrafts landed at Kathmandu and those pilots who flew them were legendary. Whenever I came across these pilots, pointed out to me in whispered awe by my minders, I used to look up to them both literally and metaphorically. I remember a Sikh pilot and another Anglo-Indian pilot frequently flying the Nepal skies. I cannot remember their names. However the real Indiana Jones of the time was a Polish pilot; more of him later.
It was sometime during this period that I dropped a bombshell sending the household into a tizzy: I would become an airline pilot when I grew up! The consternation this unexpected announcement generated caught my mother in a pang of anxiety as she slapped me and started sobbing. Flying for a living was a subject one did not broach ever after. But flying I did for the very first time in a Douglas DC-3 of Royal Nepal Airlines when I accompanied my father to Patna en route to a train journey bound for Varanasi and Lucknow back in 1962. The Dakotas were noisy and shaky and I remember father and son puking at the Patna airport washroom after a particularly violent flight.
|DC-3 Aircraft at Kathmandu's Gauchar Airfield|
|Halina Bujakowska's book on her journey with her husband Stanislaw from Warsaw to Shanghai in a motorbike|
|The Bujakowskis and their BSA motorbike|
After 1951 for the first time supplies were flown into Nepal instead of transported on the backs of porters over the interminable mountain passes. Himalayan Aviation was merged into Indian Airlines in 1953 while the Nepalese aviation industry would grow independently with the formation of Royal Nepal Airlines in 1958.
My dream to fly has been fulfilled in more ways than one since my childhood. I have brought in international charter flights to Nepal filled with tourists, represented numerous airlines such as Malaysia Airlines and Aeroflot and assisted China Southern Airlines to fly to Nepal. I was not destined be a pilot; that is all.
|Transavia Airlines' maiden flight to Nepal, September 1998|