Hunt for the Messerchmitt Bf-109
TRADE OR FISHY DEAL? The Messerschmitt Bf-109E airframe which was worth around 300,000 USD
was traded by the college for a HAL Pushpak which is valued at 2000 USD - The college
claims that they received no further renumeration.
When the Messerschmitt Bf-109 went
missing from Gulbarga's PDA College of Engineering, the College management was not very
concerned. According to a statement by the Hyderabad Karnataka Education Society, the
'junked' aircraft was exchanged for another vintage aircraft, a vintage car and a
motorcyle and a bicycle. The trade seemed above board and legal, with the college trust
board passing a resolution in February 2002 that the exchange deal be carried out.
Even as the deal was being worked out, WarbirdsofIndia
came to know of its existance and the information was bought to the notice of the
Indian Air Force Authorities. Since the aircraft lay in the jurisdiction of the IAF's
Training Command at Bangalore, It was decided that Air Marshal TJ Master, AOC-in-C of the
Command will carry out the formalities of requesting for the aircraft.
The Indian Air Force was interested in procuring
the aircraft and restoring it for its Museum, and made the offer of a Kiran Jet Trainer
for the college. The Principal of the college at that time explained his helplessness,
saying that the aircraft belonged to the government and probably the Gulbarga Municipal
Corporation and it was out of his jurisdiction to give it to the IAF. Accordingly Air
Marshal Master wrote to the Chief Secretary of the Karnataka State Government about the
Around August 2002, Mr. Naidu had delivered his
part of the deal, an Unidentified aircraft, a Morris Minor car, a vintage Motorbike and a
bicycle. The Bf-109 was shipped out in two different trips. When this was found out by the
IAF, all hell broke loose in Bangalore. The IAF wanted the Karnataka State government to
take action, but the Karnataka State Police were not clear on the course of action. In due
course of time, everyone seemed to forget about the aircraft.
However it seemed that all was not
hunky dory with the trade offer. When the trade offer was investigated, it was found that
the aircraft offerred in exchange was a HAL Pushpak. All put together, the Pushpak, the
car and the bikes were valued at less than Rs 1,00,000/- or around $2000/-. The College
claimed that they had not received anything more. Clearly the deal was less profitable to
the college than the HAL Kiran that the Air Force offered. More importantly, no documents
existed that the HKES were the owners of the aircraft. The correct owners of the aircraft
was the Gulbarga Municipal Corporation, in whose park the Bf-109 was displayed till 1961,
before it was moved to PDA College. And neither the GMC nor the State goverrnment was
informed of the deal.
The Story on how PDA College sold an
aircraft that never belonged to it and that too for a pittiance was broke in the media,
when Sandeep Unnithan of India
Today Magazine did a story on the Vintage Aircraft Exports going out in
the country. Taking the cue from the story, several newspapers followed up on the deal, and a criminal case was
registered against the HKE Society. The Gulbarga Police, under DSP Mr. Alok Kumar
immediately swung into investigating the story.
The first step in contacting Mr. Gireesh
Naidu came to naught. Mr. Naidu was contacted on phone in which he reportedly expressed
his desire to restore the aircraft and display it within India. But later on he
was not contactable. HKES and its chairman Mr. BG Jawali came under severe pressure
because of the deal, and in a statement to the Indian Express , Mr. Jawali
expressed that the college has decided to cancel the deal and take back the aircraft , but
it was unable to do so as Mr. Naidu was not to be contacted.
No one has an idea as to where the
aircraft is currently. For all people might know, the aircraft might have left the country
by now. Mr. Gireesh Naidu claimed it was still in the country, the Gulbarga Police did not
have any information on this. Nor do the respective state governments of Andhra Pradesh or