Flight Lieutenant Kuke Suresh walked into my office with a grim face. Flight Lieutenant M S Vasudeva walked in just behind him. Kuke was my adjutant and Vasu was the Unit Flight Safety Officer. It was the 29th of September 1969 and I was Archer One. We were at Hindan. ‘There has been an accident in Chandigarh‘, they sang out in unison. Read the rest of this entry
Monday morning was a bit of a rush. Leena had to be taken to the Command Hospital for a biopsy. The earlier we could reach there, the better it would be for me. But which plan of a man or a mouse ever runs smoothly? Rashida Bai arrived late delaying my Breakfast. Shivji had to receive His special Monday-Morning Prayers from Leena and that could not be rushed. My being ready to move out by 9 am really served no purpose. Well… Being as old as I currently am, I have learnt many a trick to keep my cool under adverse circumstances. I was determined not to get irritated; I opened up the laptop and entered the internet. Kartooos had just posted a new entry in his blog. I opened it and was immersed in it immediately. The date of situation of his story was 4 Nov 77, a date I could never forget. Read the rest of this entry
For the year 1966 I wore two hats at work. My primary job (as I was told by my bosses) was to be the Station Flight Safety Officer of Ambala. My primary job (in my own eyes and according to the official posting order that I had received) was to be the flight commander of Number 18 Squadron. There was a difference in the two interpretations that had to be reconciled. Read the rest of this entry
The men and women of the officer cadre in the central government services, be they of civil or military persuasion, are expected to be ready to become appointed experts. I mean they are first appointed to a job and are then expected to become experts on the special features of the appointment they are given, instantly if possible. Those who cope with this style of functioning survive and progress, those who do not and are from the military part of the services are allowed to gently fade away at a relatively young age. I had got quite used to this style of functioning. Some times such appointments are thrown at you without pre-thought or prejudice; you get it thrown at you merely because you happen to be there. (This happened to me when I got selected to be the project manager of the Jaguar induction project somewhat later in my life). At some other time you are given such appointment to groom your growth in the service. (This happened to me when I was made to perform the duties of the Senior Technical Officer of the Squadron under then Wing Commander Katre commanding 7 Squadron on Hunter aircraft in 1962-63). And then some time you get picked for a job because some one wishes to remove you from your present appointment. My story today is about one such incident. Read the rest of this entry
After my father’s death I shifted my mother and my wife to Kolkata from Deoghar. The accommodation I was allotted at Kolkata was tiny, but it was rather well situated in New Alipore. I was then an instructor with 12(Bengal) Air Squadron NCC with my office in Jadavpore University Campus. For flying with my cadets I had to go Bengal Flying Club which was then located in Barrackpore. For those readers of mine who are unfamiliar with the geography of Kolkata, Jadavpore is a suburb in the south of Kolkata while Barrackpore is a township quite a way north of the city. Between the office and the flying club I was kept quite busy.
I had just taken over the Air Force Station at Jamnagar as its Air Officer Commanding (AOC). My wife Leena was still in Delhi tending to the children who could not shift as they were half way through their school/college term. Jamnagar has one of the busiest air firing ranges of the country; flying units from all over the country send detachments to Jamnagar for an intensive camp of air to ground and air to air firing practice. Soon after my arrival, a detachment from the Fighter Training Wing (FTW) Hakimpet arrived with their Polish made Iskra aircraft for their routine armament training. For those readers who are not familiar with the structure of the Air Force let me explain that the FTW trains new young pilots into elements of fighter flying after they graduate from the Air Force Academy. Such detachments from FTW to Jamnagar are routine affairs and take place normally twice a year. All arrangements are pre-set. The instructors from the FTW are normally familiar with Jamnagar and they do their own training without any interference form the station. Jamnagar just has to provide the flying environment and the range firing facility. I was therefore not bothered about the presence of a big bunch of very young pilots on my base. Read the rest of this entry
Naoroz Noshar Dadachanji and I were close pals for a long time. We were batch-mates at Begumpet for the 60th Pilot’s Course in Number 1 Air Force Academy. We both became Cadet Under Officers on the same day. Naturally we were commissioned on the same day too: 1 Apr 53. We were both sent into the fighter stream; therefore both of us did our fighter conversion on the Spitfire together at Hakimpet. From there we were sent to the same squadron, No,1 : The Tigers. Our twin fates remained intertwined even after this long stint together. Read the rest of this entry