As you curse the traffic jams and battle noxious vehicles fumes to reach your destination through Mumbai’s busy Swami Vivekananda Road, you just might be forgiven not having noticed a national landmark.
India’s first civil aviation airport, now known as the Juhu Aerodrome, is located just ahead of the Nanavati Hospital on one of suburban Mumbai’s arterial roads.
When it first opened its gates in 1928, it was known as the Vile Parle Flying Club. The first civil flight that took off from this airport was fittingly piloted by J R D Tata, the father of Indian civil aviation.
The flight, part of the Tata Aviation Service, the forerunner to Tata Airlines and Air India, departed from the Drigh Road airstrip, Karachi, on October 15, 1932. After a stopover at Ahmedabad, it landed at the Juhu Aerodrome to complete India’s first civil flight.
Juhu Aerodrome served as the city’s sole airport for 26 years.
Today, the aerodrome, which has one runway, hosts a flying club and a heliport. It is occasionally used for shoots by the Mumbai film industry.