In December, as election campaigns of the two major parties in India heated up in poll-bound Gujarat, the flag-bearers seemed to be engaged in a game of one-upmanship. On December 12, 2017, Prime Minister Narendra Modi outdid everyone’s speculation as he took a seaplane ride from Sabarmati River in Ahmedabad to Dharoidam in Mehsana. The BJP isn’t new to publicity stunts, and to their credit, their stunts usually prove to be crowd-pleasers. But when, on the same day, Mr Modi’s website (narendramodi.in) carried a story that called him “the first passenger of India’s first ever seaplane”, the party had stretched the truth too far. (Though in times like these, fact has little relevance.) While some of the mainstream media blindly shared the hype on their websites, others on the fringes like Alt News went on to debunk the myth by recalling India’s actual  first seaplane commercial service, Jal Hans, which was inaugurated in December 2010 in the Andamans. (It is now stalled.) The PM’s website retraced its steps and modified the headline of its story, but some news websites have retained their original, incorrect web articles.

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The world's first seaplane flight
The world’s first seaplane flight
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Henri Fabre, who designed the seaplane
Henri Fabre, who designed the seaplane

We at a travel magazine couldn’t help but wonder at the brouhaha of vikas over a seaplane ride. Is it really a revolutionary development if the world’s first seaplane flight happened over a century ago? In these pictures, we present a glimpse of the day when the first seaplane took off from water under its own power at Étang de Berre in France for a 500-metre-long jump and a height of over five metres on March 28, 1910. On board was Henri Fabre, who had also designed the canard-configuration seaplane later named Hydravion. Of course, the technology has grown in leaps and bounds since, and seaplanes have become a common sight in many countries. In fact, they’re often used by groups of affluent tourists for reaching remote island resorts in destinations like the Maldives. But none of those facts could deter some Indian news sites from drawing parallels between Mr Modi and James Bond for a simple seaplane flight.