Take off…joy up in the air

When one thinks of George Clooney and his mode of travel…  And yet, taking off to the skies seems to be the ‘in’ thing this season in Goa.

The story started when the villagers of North Goa refused to let this big bird land on the helipad. It scares away the peacocks was the reason given. So this bird with the mechanical rotors moved to South Goa. And believe you me, there was no need for a helipad…the lawns of the swanky Park Hyatt became its landing ground.

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And to make it a ride of joy, one will carefully refrain from calling it a joy ride, a Sunday scrumptious brunch was laid out at the Palms, their Beach side shack with not one, but three chef’s in attendance…shorts et all.

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As one enjoyed watching the landing and the take off, with a big plate of sausages and cold cuts, one cannot but help reflect on the past. Did mechanical birds take off and land in South Goa?

Way back before Liberation, the Portuguese Air Force did not have any presence in Portuguese Goa except for a single officer in the role of an Air adviser. So on 16th December 1961, a few days before Liberation, the Portuguese Air Force was put on alert to transport ten tons of anti-tank grenades in two DC-6 aircraft from Montijo Air base in Portugal. However most nations, including Pakistan , denied it a stopover facility for a military aircraft. So a civilian airline TAP offered a Lockheed Constellation CS – TLA on charter. The plane landed in Goa on 17th December, with a consignment of half a dozen bags of sausages as food supplies instead of the intended grenades and of course a contingent of female paratroopers to assist in the evacuation of Portuguese civilians.

India believing that the Portuguese had superior air power at the airport flew in a few military sorties. The first raid on 18th December on the Dabolim Airport and was in the form of 12 English Electric Canberra aircraft,  and the second Indian raid was conducted with eight Canberras on 19th December They dropped 63,000 pounds of explosives within minutes, completely destroying the runway

And the rest they say is history. Freedom is….sitting by the beach nibbling on sausages, watching the joy enfold with food and up in the air rides.

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