Madras Flying Club on a Wing and Prayer

Chennai: If you were to ask what ails one of the oldest flying clubs this side of the world, don’t be surprised if they ask for an extra sheet of paper to make a list.

The Madras Flying Club may have once been the destination for every young, aspiring pilot who dreamed of throttling an aeroplane across the sky, but now, the 85-year-old entity at the far end of the airport at Meenambakkam, is seeing its darkest hour yet. From their ‘hosts’ trying their best to get them to vacate to infighting that nearly tore the club down, the MFC has been through some hellish weather and is none the worse for wear.
After the British started an aerodrome at Meenambakkam in 1930 — a place where they had golf links initially — the place became a hub for aviation and airmen training, before eventually housing the airport, “In a sense, the airport was built there only because the Club was situated in Meenambakkam. How things have changed,” says Captain Sebastian Joseph, with a sardonic laugh. Joseph is the Honorary Secretary of the Madras Flying Club and has been trying to keep a handle on things for a while. Over the course of the last 3-4 years, it is evident that the Airports Authority of India (AAI) seems hell-bent on evicting them and reclaiming the precious space that the MFC’s building and hangars stand on.
19/05/14 Daniel Thimmayya/New Indian Express

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