Upali Airlines was the first private airline in Sri Lanka. Pelpola Vipassi Thero has become the first passenger of the Upali Group.
This is how he recalled how he got that opportunity.
“While working on the construction of the Siripad Peace Dagoba, I wanted to see the site from above, so … one day I was invited to attend a “piritha” at Dr. Seevali Ratwatte’s house at Shedigrov Place, Borella.
While there I met Mr. Upali Wijewardene. I told him my need.
Upali Wijewardene who heard this said that I have not yet given my plane to the passengers. I agreed to fulfill my need by saying that I would give it to Thero first.
I accepted and told him that I would be your first passenger only if I paid for it. That is why you have to take money from me for this trip.
Mr. Upali Wijewardene did not like that. But I also wanted to be the first passenger on the Upali flight. So I paid Rs. 7,000, booked a Upali helicopter, and flew to “Siripad”.
Since then I have booked Upali Airline’s helicopters on several occasions.
At one point, Ven. Walpola Rahula Thero, a former speaker of the V.J.M.U Lokubandara also booked a helicopter to go to Anuradhapura with former Mahaweli Minister Gamini Dissanayake.
On each of those flights, Mr. Upali Wijewardene took less than the fare of a normal flight.
Also, pilot Sudharshana Manamperi, who accompanied me on my first flight, took me on every flight.
That is why Mr. Manamperi was very friendly with me. On some trips, he even gave me the opportunity to fly a helicopter. “
Upali de Saram