Saturday 27 May 2017


            During my cadets days at EFS Bidar in 1980, a very temperamental instructor, was teaching Landing technique to a Sikh Cadet on HT-2, a tail-wheel aircraft...
 This aircraft is cool from the pupil's point of view, pupil friendly, as the instructor is sitting behind you, out of sight in the rear cockpit...He can only yell at you on intercom or shake the stick vigorously left/ right in frustration to hit your knees... Even if the pupil strains to look back he can only see only the top of his instructor's bondome. Although the pupil has a good view ahead, the instructor cannot see the runway ahead but only through left and right sides can he guess the alignment of aircraft  wrt the centerline....A very tricky aircraft that yaws to right / left unusually when you open / close throttle. This yaw has to be instantly corrected/ compensated by opposite rudder ...A number of pilots have swung it a couple of 360 degs during the landing roll...
 So, lets come to the topic...This cadet who had failed his solo check by CFI was given 2 sorties extn but couldn’t get the hang of the rudder control during landing and his landing touch downs were very harsh and heavy ...His instructor took him up, gave him enough landing practice. He used to take over on the take off roll do a short circuit and hand over controls on short finals, but decided to remain calm during these extension sorties, but still was unable to analyse and rectify his heavy landing the end of the two sorties, during taxi back the instructor stopped the aircraft on exit taxi-track and asked him on intercom,"227, what does your Father do?"
 Pupil, : "Sir, he is a zamindar in Ludhiyana."
Instructor, : "Achha, fir toh bahut zameen aur khet bhi honge."
 Pupil, : "Han Sir, Sau acre zamin hai, khet hain"
Instructor, : "Achha, fir toh bahut se baill aur  hal bhi honge."
 Pupil, : "Nahi Sir, 5 tractors hain"
Now suddenly the instructor turned furious, gave a mouthful of explicits, : "MC, BC, toh  saale  apne  ghar  jake  apne  tractoron  ko  todd,  govt  of india  ke hawai jahaz  kyun  todd  raha  hai  yahan."...
Hahaha, this the Cadet had himself narrated to us...He somehow had

scrapped through and later become a good pilot.

Cadet Raj Dutta


PS--  This write up has reminded me of an accident that happened in EFS Bidar in 1980. My instructor Sqn Ldr Ravindran had taken me up for a routine trg sortie and as we landed back...emgergency siren was sounded by the ATC and we were asked to line up and take off again as an HT2 had just crash landed...All the cadets were made airborne in all available aircraft...we took off and did low pass over the crash site....we could see the instructor of that aircraft sitting on his aircraft wings trying to pull out under-trainee Army Capt....unfortunately the poor soul succumbed to injuries......The instructor was injured with minor injuries and admitted in Hospital, we all cadets paid him a visit in the evening....Very sad Day it was for all of us...that was the only fatal accident of our course, 126 PC.....RIP

Thursday 25 May 2017

      Aaj ke swatantrata diwas pe, phir  yaad kiya  ek Dil ne ek Dil ko…..Aur kya Dil thha wo !, Sher-e-Dil…Zoji La Sher ka….Ek Bharat ma ke Veer ka….jise  ek  nahi  do  bar,   jee  haan  do  bar  Maha Vir Chakra se sammanit  kiya gaya…Yes, Ladies and Gentlemen he was a living legend MVC and Bar.   

       After my Grad from MSU Baroda(1978), I was in Jullandhar Cantt for a year, prior to joining Navy. I was teaching in a private college in the City, where I used to pedal to and fro on a bicycle. I got a chance to meet and interact with Gen Sparrow,MVC and Bar (Retd),  who was provided a Govt Bunglow in Cantt. He requested me to impart tuitions to his grand children of St Lawrence Sanawar, who had come on leave. Gen sparrow wanted me to join the Army and directed me to Brig Sidhu, his neighbour for guidance. I cleared my CDS and Allahabad SSB and was to join IMA in Jun ’79, call letter in hand. 10 days to go, I received a telegram from NHQ for an option to join Navy as Avn cadet entry and to report Varanasi for PABT…Destiny rewritten !!    

         This Independence Day Eve, I pay my tributes and gratitude to  the Zoji La Tiger, Gen Sparrow,  under whose guidance and blessings I joined the Navy… My perfect Naval Salute to a Brave son of India. JAI  HIND !!


        Maj Gen Rajinder Singh (3 October 1911- May 1994), as per Wikipedia,  was an Indian Army’s Brave officer and  a two time member of the Lok Sabha, the lower house of Indian parliament. He was nicknamed 'Sparrow'.
        He served in the ranks of the Indian Army from 3 October 1932 to 31 January 1938. Attended the Indian Military Academy, Dehra Dun. Commissioned onto the Unattached List, Indian Army 1 February 1938. Spent the next year attached to a British Army regiment, then admitted to the Indian Army and joined the 7th Light Cavalry 24 February 1939. Promoted Lieutenant 30 April 1939.  He served during World War II.
             He was awarded two Mahavir Chakras, the second highest military decoration in India, first for his role during the Indo-Pakistani War of 1947, for outstanding leadership during the advance and capture of Jhangar.  and later for displaying gallantry in the 1965 Indo-Pakistan war. During the 1965 war he was GOC of the 1st Armoured Division.
              In 1948, Pakistani invaders occupied the 11000 ft high Zoji La Pass. It was found difficult to dislodge them. Major General K S Thimayya, DSO decided to send tanks to surprise the enemy. Lt. Col. Rajinder Singh, CO of 7th Light Cavalry achieved the unique task of taking his tanks on the pass in spite of overwhelming odds. The enemy was completely surprised and abandoned the pass. This was a record of highest altitude for employment to tanks. Lt. Col Rajinder Singh was awarded M V C.
          During the Pakistan aggression in 1965 Maj Gen Rajinder Singh Sparrow was General Officer Commanding I Armoured Division. As a result of his brilliant handling of the Division, Pakistani Armoured Corps, pride of Pakistan Army was defeated. Major General Rajinder Singh got a bar to his Maha Vir Chakra. 

              Held the appointment of regimental Colonel of the 7th Light Cavalry from July 1959 to July 1969. After retirement he joined politics and became minister in the short lived Gurnam Singh ministry in 1967. Later he was elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 and 1985 from Jalandhar constantuency as a candidate of Indian National Congress. The Brave son of India  breathed his last in May 1994, at the age of 83.  

                                                          Gen  Sparrow

            The song that needs dedication to the Zoji La Tiger, has to be a toofani song……To me it appears that He is himself singing the Himalayan number……This wonderful song is written by Neeraj and sung enthusiastically by Rafi & Manna Dey on the soulful beats of SDB…. Amen.



Tuesday 23 May 2017


           My dad had just been posted to AF  Halwara in late 60s and me admitted to KV std V. I was an innocent dumb kid with no friends in the new class. Another kid, more smarter than me , living in my neighbourhood befriended me. We started going to school together that was a Km and half away. Rajesh Dhir was his name. We started visiting each other’s home regularly. Our Dad’s and our Mom’s also became friends. Exchange of dishes started, as happens in some North Indian neighbourhoods. Creates a sense of bonhomie and you have more variety to relish…(remember the exchange of ideas, and each one having two ideas…. here the summation of dishes )…Soon there was  Independence Day celebration in School and Kids were asked to present their items, to be whetted by class teachers and then rehearsals…Rajesh and me decided to gather a few class mates for a group song…I, the dumo, was happy when our ‘Dresh ki Dharti’ was approved…The class teacher told some hoarse singers, including me, to do only lip singing with actions…On the D Day, we had been told to come in white shorts, the fact that either did’nt filter down to me or I missed out and I went to School in the usual blue short…I was in panic, of being left out of the chorus at the last moment…Spotting me in a morose mood Rajesh smiled, “Don’t worry I have brought a newly stitched nikar, for this particular song in my school bag”…He was wearing his usual white short…”I thought of changing into this before the item…Par tu pahan le yaar”…My joy new no bounds…

             Our item, the Manoj Kumar song turned out to be the best group song of the function and we along with our class teacher went on stage to receive our gift of sweets/trophies from the Princi…

            When I went to the change room I was in for a shock…That stupid of a fountain pen had leaked and deposited a large blue spot on the corner of the pocket (we had changed over from pencil to fountain pen in IV)…I changed, took the nikar to wash under the row of taps in the bathroom, but the spot spread and made it look worse…tears welled up in my eyes as I faced Rajesh with his spoiled Nikar in my hand behind my back…”What happened Rajinder? why you crying? Todays the best day of our Life…Everyone appreciated our song” and he started singing ‘Mere desh ki Dharti’ to bemuse me…stealthily I brought my hand in front to reveal his bicoloured brand new Nikar and observed his face through the drying tears…His smile broadened, “Abbe tu iske liye ro raha hai? Chhod yar”…He snatched it from me and returned it to his bag after a fold…My Mom got another short stitched for Rajesh, but his friendly nature made him my Best of friends even to this day…He is a Senior Manager of a company in Ludhiana…For Rajesh….
Dost Pyar se bhi bada hota hai.
Har Khusi or Gam me sath hota hai,
Tabhi toh KRISHNA, RADHA ke liye Nahi,
SUDAMA ke liye Rota hai..
Kyuki har 1 Friend Zaruri Hota hai

                I had seen this movie, 'Haqeeqat, along with my good friend Rajesh during my childhood. After the success of their group song ‘Mere desh ki dharti’, in which Little Raj of fifth standard mostly performed lip singing, he slowly emboldened into a bathroom singer and was very fond of singing ‘Kar chale hum fida’ …….…In the inter-house singing competition he confidently and promptly enrolled his name for a solo song.
           He practised well…come the D day…When his name was announced, he confidently went up the stage of the auditorium, amidst the 300 odd cheering and whistling students, even as the teachers were shouting “Quiet ! Quiet !!”…. The mike man came, adjusted the mike for him and slipped back…

           Little Raj just froze…He forgot his starting lines… He started trembling like a leaf in a blowing wind…

          The hall was in splits…the boy didn’t know where to look, even as tears welled up in his innocent eyes….
          Just then he saw through his tears, Rajesh getting up from the third row and exiting the side door….Little Raj wished the stage to tear apart and the Earth to swallow him, as it did to ‘Sita’….
          Just then he felt an arm on his back and shoulders. He looked and was relieved and overjoyed to see Rajesh, who started off the song…That initial line rung the bell and Raj immediately regained his confidence and both of them sang the song in unison… The students became quiet, and you could have heard a pin drop, when the song finished, just before the thunderous applause engulfed the auditorium….What a live example of friendship !

(A Mic today is Raj's close faithful Buddy, as he is a fairly good Anchor and commentator)
                                                 (In Pic Rajesh with his sisters)                                             


          My Dad was a Sargent  technician of Super connie aircraft  in 6 sqn Poona in mid 60s, where I started my initial primary schooling...we stayed in 10-20 area and then Viman Nagar...Our school bus used to take us across the runway, which used to close for canberra & vampires taking off in the morning...we really used to enjoy from our bus windows, the fighters taking the evenings we used to venture into the abandoned liberator aircraft and sit in the cockpit and act out pilot/ copilot, do dummy flying, ...childhood was fun.....the 6 sqn 'Pagal Gim khana' anniv used to be fun and we were allowed to go into the connie earmarked for the visit from the rear , walk up the aisle and exit the front door...the cockpit cordoned off by ropes...when I and my younger brother walked up and reached the cockpit, I asked the Warrant officer  guide, for sitting in the pilot’s seat ...he politely refused...this was in 1966, me 8 yrs then...irony of fate , fwd 15 yrs later 1981, I was transferred from 550 Cochin to 312 Sqn to fly the connies at INS Hansa,Goa as an AgSlt along with Gopa Kumar...My Dad must have been in seventh heaven, on hearing that I was to fly the same aircraft that he served in.

Life has been great to some people like me, who can proudly say, ‘Zindagi mein jo hamne hai khoya, woh hai hamara bachpan hamari nadani, aur jo paya woh hai mere Rab ki meharbani’. 

PS- I dedicate this article to my Dad, Late Hon Fg.Offr  BR Dutta,...Miss you Dad...May your humble Soul remain blessed always and shower your blessings on us…



      I hail from Mustafabad, once a sleepy little village near Jagadhari…Our House was one of the posh looking houses with a garden-verandah among the kuchcha dwellings of the village. Jab hosh sambhala as a kid, I used to see an old man who used to walk every morning, come and feed the ant hill outside my house with wheat flour...I used to see a cow, triggered by its biological clock, come and stand in front of our house in the morning, afternoon and evening, as my mother/grandmother used to make the first roti and feed it to her...I used to see villagers feeding the fishes with tiny bits of dough and sparrows/pigeons with grains... Now, such acts of micro generosity may seem utterly negligible, in the grand scheme of the mega universe...lekin is sansar mein praniyon ke beech ek doosare ke liye jo pyar hai, shayad ussi par yeh duniya ab tak tikki hui hai...... Those days as kids we shouted ‘Inqulab zindabad’ with small flags in our tiny hands in the streets of village.

         I remember my Grandmother (addressed as Mataji) was always well dressed in her flowery grey suit…She was the Headmistress of  the village school and commanded great respect of villagers…. .As a kid I once asked my Mataji  about my Grandfather, and she said that he couldn’t cross-over during partition and might have been massacred by Muslims enroute…Her tears had dried long ago.…. (Wiki says In the riots which preceded the partition in the Punjab Province, between 200,000 and 2,000,000 people were killed in the retributive genocide between the religions. UNHCR estimates 14 million Hindus, Sikhs and Muslims were displaced during the partition; it was the largest mass migration in human history.) ….Amidst all this, She was a brave-heart lady, who crossed over the drawn Border with her 6 children (5 sons and a daughter) safely. My Dad was 5th in sequence and 11 yrs old then…She job-settled all her children in Jammu/Delhi and got them married…  

      Well,  our village had kuchcha roads, but these appeared quite broad. I had gone to my childhood home in my village recently after 5 decades and was shocked  to see the garden-Verandah which appeared huge those days, had shrunk to one-third its original size.... The house and room dimensions in those days appeared 3 times as of now, since we watched it from one third the height..........My fascination with aircraft started when I was four and my mother had told me that Dad was in Air Force…. and I used to admire him when he used to come on leave carrying his trunk and holdall...He had a charming personality with well kept moustache. Mataji used to address him as 'Balram'

     Mataji sent me to her sister in-law’s place for  nursery school learning, when I was 4, preparatory to enrolling me to her school…I was given a wooden slate and kalam-dawaat and taken to my grand aunt’s house. That house was as large as ours…She was a sweet old lady who  taught me the Devnagari alphabet  and Roman numerals…My home work comprised reading what was there on slate, memorize it (usually the numeric tables), then clean the slate with water, apply the moist yellowish chalk and dry it for the next day….
         When my Dad came on next leave he appeared  to be happy and had decided to take us to AF stn Poona (now Pune) where he had then been posted ( 6 Sqn)....We all (me, my younger brother and sister)  were very excited…But, still the 5 yr old Chhota Raj was sad…Sad for his Mataji who would be left alone in that Big house…But she consoled us, “Don’t worry, I am going to Jammu for a few days to my Eldest son on summer vacations and shall come to Poona too” …. It was a tearful farewell to Mustafabad and my 'Mataji', who had come to see us off at the station… I visited that village only recently after 5 decades …. My Grandmother had breathed her last in Jammu, soon after we had left  the village.….RIP

                                              Chhota  Raj

                                         Our  Family -  Poona

                          My Father - Hon Fg Offr BR Dutta