Indian Air Force Trivia Page


Excuse me! Can't You See I am dangling from a Parachute?
Flt Lt U G Wright had the bitter experience of not only shot down but also being shot at while dangling from a Parachute. In 1948 , His Tempest was so badly shot up over the Kishenganga region he baled out near Pandu, at Uri, opposite 4 Kumaon Positions. Immediately he became the prize catch for both the sides. the Tribesmen let all loose on the descending parachute, and the Kumaonis gave covering fire by attacking the tribesmen. Wright descended and his chute got entangled in a tree and he was left dangling some 20 feet above the ground.

Seeing that  the Kumaonis were reaching the Pilot first ,  all hell was let loose in form of 3.5 inch Howitzers and Mortar shells. one  shell fell on top of the tree, shedding leaves and splinters over the dangling pilot. and luckily shredding the parachute in process. Wright fell to the ground and ran towards our lines. and finally made it under covering fire.

Recycling Old Parachutes.
The IAF was involved in supply dropping in the NEFA and the Aksai Chin in the buildup prior to the Indo China War. Only Thirty Percent of the Supplies dropped in the mountainous terrain were ever recovered. The rest drifting into inaccessable Crevasses and canyons. Then we had Parachutes not opening and the cargo crashing to the ground, bursting open its contents, like food supplies and in some cases, Bent Catridges for the rifles. The cause of the Parachutes not opening being that the govt in a policy of Austerity insisted on recycling old parachutes. In most cases thease were parachutes recovered from the supply drops after they were exposed to the elements for months. lying in crevasses for days did little good for the Parachute material.

On more occassions than one, Soldiers spent hours if not days to trek and recover Parachuted supplies from canyons to discover that the chutes held unimportant things. Color Coding for the Parachutes was recommended but never implemented.

What ? Is there a War Going on?
Brig Dalvi recalls in the "Himalayan Blunder" how, on Oct 20, the Chinese attacked Indian positions en masse. in the midst of the fighting The IAF made its appearance, though not in the style one would prefer. a Dakota came on lazily onto the battlefield and started dropping supplies. The chinese turned their rifle fire onto it. However, it got thru its "Routine supply run" unscathed.
Twice unlucky
Air Vice Marshal Amjad Hussain Khan (Pakistani Air Force) has the dubious distinction of being shot down in both the Indo Pakistan Wars. First time on 7 Sep 65, He baled out after being shot down by an IAF Mystere. Then in the 1971 War, His Starfighter was again shot down, he baled out over amritsar and was taken prisoner. A H Khan also holds the Pakistani Sitara-E-Juraat, the MVC equivalent.
The Gnat and the Gremlins.
The Gnat had its fair share of trouble during its induction into the IAF. During the 1965 Conflict, quite a few of the Gnats suffered Gun Stoppages during the initial days of the fighting. One Year before, Sqn Ldr Trevor Keelor, forcelanded a Gnat with a runaway engine, in the first highspeed landing of the Gnat and received the Vayu Sena Medal (Air Force Medal). Sqn Ldr A S Sandhu, another pilot with an Air To Air kill in the 65 Conflict, did the first dead stick landing in a Gnat after his engine flamed out during a routine flight. He too received the Air Force Medal for the successful landing. Not all forcelandings by Gnats were successful. The Aircraft Systems and Testing Establishment (ASTE) Bangalore, lost atleast Four Gnats and Test Pilots prior to 1965 in testing.
Indian Prangs in Foreign Aircraft and Vice Versa!
One of the Dramatic Prangs by Indian Pilots was during the training program conducted by the French for the first batch of pilots to be trained on the Alize. Lt Cdr Roy and Lt Anderson, whilst flying in a French Naval Alize, Crashed in the Northern Sea. Both the pilots were rescued unhurt by a SAR Helicopter. The French took their loss sportingly. However, Sometime later, when Two of their Helicopters were leased to the Navy for training, they put an indemnity clause making the Navy liable for their loss in crashes.

Not that the IAF didn't suffer losses in the foreign hands. One prominent example was a MiG-25R Foxbat which was being shipped by a Russian Pilot. He crashed the aircraft immediately after take off. writing it off. In 1994 Two Polish Engineers, part of a polish team who arrived in Hakimpet to inspect the Iskra Trainers, took one of the Iskras (W1775) for a test flight. The Iskra took off , veered to the left, cleared the boundary wall and crashed . killing one of the Polish Engineers. The Other Pilot ,Mr. Dudezelich Ejected , barely escaping with burnt injuries.

Unheralded visitor in Ceylon.
On 24th February 1964, Workers at an airfield in Ceylon were startled to see an Indian Navy Aircraft approach and force land there. It turned out to be an Alize, from the INS Vikrant flown by Lt R S Grewal. who took off from the aircraft carrier and suffered an instrument blackout. He flew to Ceylon by dead reckoning and landed at the airfield. At time of landing there was another aircraft on the runway, which Grewal noticed and the resultant heavy braking took care of all the tyres of the aircraft. The Alize was stranded in Ceylon for quite some time. Grewal received the Nao Sena Medal for his sucessful forcelanding.
A Liberator for a Lysander.
Visitors at the IAF Museum would gaze at the awesome collection of aircraft on display there. but not all aircraft actually served with the IAF. The Lysander for example belongs to Canada. It was exchanged for a B-24 Liberator in 1969 with the National Aerospace Museum at Ottawa.
The IAF and the North Eastern Insurgency.
The Recent admission of the IAF that it used Toofanis in the air support role against the Naga Insurgent raised many eyebrows. Merely in the suggestion that the Nagas warranted the use of Air Power. It is not widely known that the Nagas once shot down an IAF Dakota dropping supplies at a beleugured Assam Rifles post and held the pilot Flt Lt Singha and his Crew "Prisoners of War" for nearly an Year.


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