First Drive: Mahindra GA8 TC 320
An SUV for rough skies
Think of a small aircraft and the first images that come to mind are of swank business liners, single-bench leather seats on each side, and nymphets serving champagne. So your mental image may be of a business tycoon-corporate shark type wafting over the clouds in his million-dollar bird, but hold that thought - the GippsAero GA8 TC 320 is not such a palace in the clouds.
It is a purpose-built plane that likes to get its hands dirty rather than sit pretty in a hangar for the fatcat to show-off. It is an eight-seater that can be altered to carry cargo, and has a six-cylinder engine that produces 320bhp. Which doesn't mean the TC 320 has nothing to brag about. Its maker, and co-founder of Gipps Aero, George Morgan, calls this aircraft the SUV of the skies - given that it has operated in some of the harshest environments in the world, including active service during Katrina flood-relief operations in the US.
It is also used by the police for surveillance across the massive Australian outback. It has one of the shortest known runs for take-off and landing - around 1,500 feet - which it can do from pretty much any flat piece of land, including your average tarred road. This it can do because of its large wheels, which can take the stress generated even by a hard surface like tarmac. This model, the GA8 TC 320, retails for Rs 31.59 lakh, customisation is extra.
Mumbaikars, see if you can spot your house in our view from the plane.