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Sanjeev Mehta: The airplane man

The MD of Emerald Isle Luxe Pvt Ltd has over 10,000 postcards of various airlines in his vast collection.

, ET Bureau|
Updated: Aug 07, 2014, 11.18 AM IST
The MD of Emerald Isle Luxe Pvt Ltd has over 10,000 postcards of various airlines in his vast collection.
The MD of Emerald Isle Luxe Pvt Ltd has over 10,000 postcards of various airlines in his vast collection.
Sanjeev Mehta is an aviation enthusiast. As a kid, he dreamt of becoming a pilot, but opted out, as his mother thought the profession was too risky for her only child. However, his passion took flight in other ways. Currently he is Managing Director, Emerald Isle Luxe Pvt Ltd, the joint venture company which has brought Spa Ceylon Luxury Ayurveda to India. But he has constructed over 80 civil and military model aircrafts to date and has a collection of over 10,000 postcards of several aircrafts. It all began on his first overseas trip in 1977.

At 11, his parents took him to the UK for a holiday and that’s where he discovered his love for aviation. “Heathrow was one of the busiest airports even then. It probably handled 10 times or more traffic than Mumbai airport of the day, so the sheer number of aircraf ts and different airlines I saw was overwhelming. It was also the first time I flew on a 747 and got to see the interiors of the Concorde,” he reminisces.

Pursuing postcards

Mehta, now 47, treasures his postcard collection. “Each card has a serial number and is listed down in an excel sheet with details of the aircraft model/subtype/airline and registration number,” he says.

He points out that getting hold of a picture of an aircraft is just an internet search away today, but it was not the case back then. “I used to browse through guides and magazines like Air Transport World and Flight International for addresses of airlines and write to them for postcards. The airlines would print postcards, brochures, timetables and stickers as part of their publicity efforts, which they would send over to people who wrote to them,” he says. Some South American and African airl ines like Surinam Airways, Mexicana, AeroPeru, LANChile, Air Malawi, Zambia Airways and Cameroon Airlines did not respond to his requests.

There are some unique postcards in his collection. “Some are now rare since the airlines have shut down— like PanAm, Eastern, Interf lug and British Caledonian. There are the old liveries of existing airlines and older airplanes which have been retired like the L1011s, DC10s, A300/310s. And of course there are a whole lot of postcards of WW2 fighters/bombers and older airplanes of the 1950s and ’60s.

Building aircrafts

Displaying some of the model airplanes that he has constructed, Mehta says that he buys kits made by companies like Airfix and Revell from the US and Europe. “They come in small pieces and need to be glued together, painted and the decals applied. It takes a lot of patience and skill, along with a steady hand for painting,” he says. The most challenging model he constructed was a 1:44 scale F-14 Tomcat, which is an interceptor / combat aircraft, carrier-borne of the US Navy.

“The kit had actual miniature rubber tyres. Even the pilot’s figure came in pieces, “ he says, his face lighting up at the memory. “The F-14 had a swing wing and an elaborate mechanism to permit movement. It was massive for a model, probably two-feet long or slightly more and was heavy,” he reveals.
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