Former Union minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy has been all over the headlines since Wednesday after he flew DMK lawmaker Dayanidhi Maran to Chennai. The MP’s tweet titled ‘A Flight to Remember‘ has caught eyeballs as he shared his experience and picture of ‘Captain Rudy’. However, this is not the first time that he flew a parliamentarian.
In 2017, Rudy ferried his cabinet colleague Ananth Kumar, Smriti Irani, Ajay Tamta along with several journalists and functionaries of the government on an IndiGo flight from Ahmedabad to Delhi. The entourage was rushing to attend the wedding of then law minister Ravi Shankar Prasad’s daughter in the national capital.
Some earlier media reports have stated that Rudy is the sole lawmaker who is rostered occasionally to operate service flights on honorary basis to keep his A-320 license active under DGCA rules. He has reportedly flown fighter planes like Sukhoi and Rafale too.
“I just make an effort for keeping my licence alive, I do fly occasionally for my endorsements and my licence. I wear a uniform and do fly, so it should not come as a surprise to you," Rudy had said while serving as the Union skill development and entrepreneurship minister.
“I fly to retain my licence because being a minister does not enable me to retain my licence," he explained.
Rudy, who has earlier also served as the civil aviation minister, elaborated that the position at which he was flying before becoming a minister requires 8-10 years of training by an individual and spending about half a crore rupees, saying he has chosen to retain his licence.
“So option was whether I abandon that licence for good or I retain it. So, I have made an effort to retain it for the purpose of licensing in which apart from clearing written and vocational exams, health tests etc, I also have to get into the cockpit and log my hours," he was once quoted as saying by PTI.
Rudy, prior to becoming a minister in the Narendra Modi government, was hired as a co-pilot by Delhi-based private carrier IndiGo Airlines on a honorary basis. Elaborating on the license, he said that he has taken special permission to fly commercial planes.
The former minister had once told Asian Age that after landing, he was always willing to say a “hello" but would avoid getting clicked with people in his pilot’s uniform. “It does not go with the image of a politician," he added.
In 2015, when Business Standard asked Rudy if it was intimidating to go from an A320 to a Sukhoi, he replied, “Not at all. I felt that (rush of) excitement; not many people would volunteer to do it… it’s a completely different experience."
The BJP leader is a Limca Book of Records holder for being the only parliamentarian to fly a commercial aircraft (Rajiv Gandhi also held a commercial pilot’s licence but gave up flying after he entered politics).