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Possibilities In Adversity: Capital’s First Aviation Museum
KATHMANDU, Nov 5: It’s a childhood dream for many to become a pilot when they grow up, but it takes a lot of hard work and determination to become one. Captain Bed Prasad Upreti is one such pilot who saw possibilities in adversity.
Speaking at a press meet organized for the soft launch of the aviation museum at Sinamangal, Captain Bed Prasad along with Spokesperson and Deputy Director of Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) Birendra Prasad Shrestha and Former Deputy Director of CAAN Mahendra Singh Rawal informed about the objectives as well as the aim of establishing the aviation museum.
After a Turkish Airlines plane crash-landed at the Kathmandu airport two years ago, pilot Bed Upreti came up with an idea to board the flight in a unique way. Of course the aircraft could not be flown again, but Bed thought it could be turned into the Capital’s first aviation museum.
The Airbus A330 was carrying 224 passengers when it skidded off the runway at Kathmandu’s airport in March, 2015. The plane was eventually dragged to a disused corner of the airport where it sat rusting for two years — until Bed declared his plans.
The Bed Upreti Trust decided to turn the plane wreckage into an aviation museum. He brought the metal trash and has invested $600,000 to turn it into an aviation museum. But, first he had to move the 63-metre plane across the road from the airport to the museum’s lot in Sinamangal. The Bed Upreti Trust has signed an agreement with the Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN) to lease the latter’s land plot at Sinamangal for the museum.
It took six weeks for a team of engineers from Turkey to dismantle the plane into 10 pieces, before loading them onto cargo trucks for the 500 meter journey. It took another two months to assemble the plane so as to form a complete aircraft.
“The Bed Upreti Trust is a non-profit organization that has already set up an aviation museum in an abandoned Fokker 100 in Dhangadi. The revenue from that project goes to assist cancer patients. The museum in Kathmandu is a sequel to the Dhangadi venture for which the Trust has partnered with CAAN,” shared Captain Bed Prasad.
Explaining further about the aviation museum Birendra expressed, “A recent survey has shown that within the next decade 450,000 aeronautical technicians and 350,000 new pilots will be needed worldwide. Internationally and within Nepal, there is already a severe shortage of pilots to address this challenge, while the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has even started a Next Generation Aviation Professional program and asked its partner organizations around to world to do the same. CAAN has responded to this call by starting its own campaign to get students interested in the aviation sector in Nepal. This aviation museum is a part of that effort and a result of cooperation between CAAN and the Bed Uperti Trust.”
Students studying in grade IX to XII from all over Nepal can enter the museum free if they have a letter endorsing the visit from their respective schools. All students with IDs get 50 percent off on tickets. When asked the reason behind offering free tickets to students of grades IX and XII, Bed said, “It is not possible to give free tickets to all the students, but we are trying discounts. We are also encouraging students to pursue higher studies to make their career in aviation field.”
Bed also acquired a loan of Rs 20 million from the Everest Bank to build the museum. “As per the contract, if we are unable to run the aviation museum after 10 years from now, all the parts of this museum will be sold to junkyards. I hope that won’t happen,” said Bed.
Bed believes that life is a journey and he has travelled around 80 countries so far. The museum also displays 86 photographs of his rendezvous. The display features cultural and historical monuments of Nepal from an aerial view along with underwater photographs captured in seas around the world.
The business class section in the plane features a model of the Wright Brothers’ first aircraft and there is a café in the tail as well as a real-life Ecureil helicopter at the museum premises. More than 350 miniature display planes mounted over the aircraft’s walls chart the history of aviation.
The airbus, which is a wide-body aircraft and has 208 feet in height as well as 55 feet width, is second such aviation museum in the country. Upreti hopes that the museum will inspire young minds to become pilots and engineers, and is confident that it will be a hit with visitors.