Indian Air Force  Trivia Page - 5

Interesting Stories and Facts you did not knew, or you knew only Vaguely....Read on. If you have any interesting trivia of your own, then tell me and i will put em up here .(with your reference)


Deadly Devons


The De Havilland Devon was inducted as VIP Transport aircraft with the IAF Communications unit in 1948 , and throughout its career was plagued with incidents that made headlines mainly due to the passengers it was carrying. Some of the incidents were

In 1949, Flt Lt K G Bhim Rao forcelanded a Devon near Jaipur that was carrying non other than Sardar Vallabhai Patel himself. The Devon was written off, but the passengers were safe.

In 1951, Flt Lt F D Irani crashlanded a Devon that was carrying the then Deputy Defence Minister, Major General Himmatsinghji and the DG , Medical Services, Lt Gen D R Thapar at Pune. The aircraft was wrecked fortunately no one was killed.

In 1952, Flt Lt Suhas Biswas, crashlanded another Devon safely,  This time the passenger list read like a whos who of the top brass of the Indian Army, The GOC-in-C, The QMG,  The CGS, The Military Secretary and two other senior officials all had a providential escape when the engine fell off. Biswas recieved the Ashoka Chakra for the sucessful landing.

It is not clear why such a spate of accidents occured with the Devon.


Pilots ! Man your paint brushes!

No. 2 Squadron's  tryst with the Air India Billboard has written itself into the history of the Squadron. In 1960, after the airforce day parade was over, the CO of No.2 Sqn came out and saw an Air India Hoarding on the ocassion. it depicted the Maharaja saying to an Air Force Officer "Happy 30th ! Air Commodore, Bet you wish you  had my Boeings". The OC thought the wording was detrimental to the image of Air Force, and the next day early morning, Squadron personnel descended onto the hoarding with Paint Cans and brushes. The Punchline was adapted as being said by the Air Force Officer. By Rush Hour, people gathered at the hoarding to read the new message.

The Maharaja was still wishing the Air Force Officer "Happy 30th! Air Commodore" to which the Air Force Officer was now  replying "Thanks ! Bet You wish you had my Boeings Gnats!!!"

New Haven for Naval Warbirds,
The Indian Navy has opened a new Museum for Naval Aircraft in Goa, Open to all visitors , without prior permission, this new museum now holds aircraft examples like the Alize, Sea Hawk, Sea Land , Constellation and Chetak Helicopters. Perhaps any enthusiast from Goa can send in a detailed report?
How the IAF got its flyable Spit!
The last of the spitfires in the IAF service flew in 1957, when No.14 Sqn flew its Spits to Ambala exchange them for Hawker Hunters. Less than a year later, none of the spits was in flyable condition.

Then AOC-in-C Maintanance Command, Air Vice Marshal Harjinder Singh, a Maintainance officer who had just then learned flying, was also keen to fly the Spit, regarded as a flying enthusiast's  ultimate dream. and on his instructions a Search began for a spitfire airframe to be restored and put back into the air. Finally a derelict Spitfire Mk VIII  was salvaged from a scrap heap in Chakeri, and restored to be flown again. Pt Off Roy Choudary flew the initial flight, after which Even Harjinder had a spin at the controls.

This Spitfire, NH 631 can still be seen today at the Air Force Museum , Palam. It last flew publicly in 1988, and since then has done only ground runs.

Highest Landings by Transports and Helicopters.
The Highest Altitude Landing ever recorded by an IAF Transport aircraft and in all probability by any Large Transport world wide is at Daulet Beg Oldi in the Karkoram region. It is situated at 17,400 feet. and on 23 July 1962, Sqn Ldr C K S Raje airlifted a platoon of Army Troops in a C-119 Packet aircraft. Daulet Beg Oldi is also the World's Highest Airfield.

The Highest Altitude Landing for a Helicopter , which is also a world record is 22,500 feet in the Karkorams , where Wg Cdr K K Saini landed a Cheetah Helicopter during the evaluation trials being carried out then. This was on 8th May 68.

Highest Landings by Fighters.
India Also holds the records for operating Fighters out of the Highest Airfields. A Squadron of MiG-21s were based at the Ladakh Airbase in Leh. which is at an altitude of over 11,000 feet. Operating Fighters at that altitude presented its own set of problems. Aircraft requiring longer take off runs. Higher Ejection Minimas and Lower payload configurations. In one case of an accident of a MiG-21, the Parachute of the pilot failed to deploy in the rarified air resulting in fatal injuries.
Choppers to the Rescue... In the English Channel
On 27th July 61,  A speed boat, carrying three persons crossing the English Channel capsized and Sank , leaving the three crew struggling for survival in the waters. On recieving the distress message, the RNAS Lee on Solent Control Tower issued a general rescue call, which was picked up Two Allouttes in the area, belonging to the I N S Vikrant. Lt Cdr Wadhwan and Lt Cdr Menon were flying a training mission in Allouttes leased from the french, when they proceeded for rescue.

As only Wadhwan's chopper was fitted with a rescue winch, Wadhwan and his Aircrewman on board, TAG Vijayan operated the winch and rescued all the three. This incident bought wide publicity in the British Papers for the Indian Navy. the Allouttes were returned to the french at the end of the training programme.

Fleet Air Arm Pilot
The only Indian to fly with the the Royal Navy's Fleet Air Arm in World War 2 was Capt. Y  N Singh. Awarded wings in Sept 44, He flew with FAA No. 804 Squadron flying Grumman Hellcats. Y N Singh operated out of Aircraft carriers long before anyone in the Indian Navy had ever dreamed of Aircraft Carriers.

In the early 1950's when plans were being made to acquire the Vikrant,  His expertise proved a valuable experience.

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