Flying Without Ever Leaving The Ground


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Amid high fuel prices, lost luggage and tight security, many people are finding it hard to be enthusiastic about air travel. Unless of course you are one of the lucky ones that get to fly in a retired Airbus A300 (similar to the one in the picture), parked in a small backyard in New Delhi's Dwarka neighborhood.

Bought in 2003, by retired Indian Airlines engineer, Bahadur Chandra Gupta, the Airbus attracts a lot of attention, despite the fact that it has been cut down to 2/3 of its length, and has a wing and part of its tail missing. Gupta also removed the engine and other delicate instruments from the plane, which sits on a concrete structure. The partition between the first and economy class seats has been replaced with a wooden wall that houses an air conditioner, a necessity in India's humid weather.

When people began asking to see the inside of the plane, Gupta agreed. "Flying,' he says, "is still beyond the reach of the common man (in India)." Most of his passengers have never flown before, but now for 150 rupees (about $3.75), they obtain boarding passes that allow them to enter the plane.

Once they are settled in their seats with seatbelts fastened, they listen to the safety message about oxygen masks and life jackets, from Gupta's wife. After that, passengers get served with a drink and a snack.

When it's time to leave, instead of disembarking in the usual manner, they get to slide down an emergency chute, which Gupta purchased for $100 USD.

People who cannot afford the ticket, are allowed to experience the flight free of charge. The plane is also a popular destination for school field trips. Gupta hopes that these educational trips will inspire students to study hard and encourage them to become airline professionals.

Judging from the long lines to board the plane, the residents of Delhi are enjoying the 'flightless' plane. Delhi resident Anisha Khan recently took a break from being a mom to her three kids and embarked on a solo flight. She said 'The Airbus is beautiful to sit in. When we have more money, then we'll go in a real plane'.


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