“If birds can glide for long periods of time, then… why can’t I ?” – Orville Wright
According to historical sources and records, Wright Brothers were the pioneers of aviation industry by inventing the first airplane that lasted for 37 seconds in sky. But very few know that the first plane took its flight in India in 1895 on chowpatty beach. The inventor of this plane was an Indian who dared to fly freely in an enslaved country. His name was Shivkar Bapuji Talpade.
Very little is written about him and his attempts to fly off the plane never came in limelight. In terms of technologies, foreign nations were always ahead of us. But the brainchild of these technologies originated from mythological stories and Indian scriptures that holded many secrets we never know would happen. The ‘Pushpak Viman’ from Ramayana must have been an inspiration somewhere for Wright Brothers to invent a vehicle which would defy the gravity and fly high in the sky. But before Wright Brothers, Shivkar Bapuji Talpade has conceptualized a vehicle that would move in the air. There was a difference in methods of Talpade to invent the plane as he used the principle of solar energy and mercury along with knowledge of rigvedas to bring his invention to life. Shivkar Talpade named his plane – ‘Marutsakha’ which meant ‘friend of wind’ in sanskrit. There is a legend that many prominent personalities like Mahadev Govind Ranade were present during the event when ‘Marutsakha’ the first plane by an Indian took a flight in the sky at the height of 1500 feet and fell down to earth. Thought this achievement is a topic of debate whether Talpade really claimed the honor to fly off the plane or it were the Wright Brothers, but the model reconstruction of Marutsakha at an exhibition in Vileparle are solid evidences that a plane was first flown in Aamchi Mumbai. It is also been said that Santos D’Monte, a brazilian was the first to invent plane even before Wright Brothers.
It is sad to know that an Indian’s invention never found a place in Nehru Centre nor there was any statue erected in memory of this pioneer whose plane took the first flight in Mumbai. Ironically, Talpade’s efforts were never noticed, appreciated and above all he didn’t get any monetary support from our people to construct this plane. On the other side, US Army had given a financial support of 25,000 dollars to Wright Brothers. So disheartening that the wings of this dreamer were miserably cut off even before he could fly.
Sadly, it only happens in India. Story of Shivkar Bapuji Talpade was made into a bollywood motion picture – Hawaizaada. After watching this movie and getting some info from wikepedia and certain links, I knew I wanted to write this story. Hope this story will bring to light the unsung efforts of the first pioneer of aviation whose invention was never appreciated.
Hope this article will inspire you all to meet your goals.