The Storied Career Of India’s Oldest Fighter Pilot, Who Turns 100 Tomorrow

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Dalip Singh Majithia retired as a Squadron Leader throughout the Indian Air Force in August 1947.

New Delhi:

On August 5, 1940, a youthful Sikh pilot took off on his first teaching flight in a Tiger Moth aircraft from the Walton airfield in Lahore alongside together with his two British instructors.

17 days later, Dalip Singh Majithia, then merely 20, flew his first solo flight, a flight that paved the best way by which for a lifetime in aviation – first throughout the Air Force after which as a personal pilot.

Along the best way by which, Majithia had his share of adventures as a fighter pilot flying the legendary Hawker Hurricane on the Burma entrance all through the Second World War to turning into the first specific individual to land a plane throughout the Kathmandu Valley quite a few a very long time later.

Tomorrow, Dalip Singh Majithia, who retired as a Squadron Leader throughout the Indian Air Force in August 1947, the 12 months of our independence, turns 100.

He is India’s oldest dwelling fighter pilot.

“I still feel that I’m in it, when I meet [Indian Air Force] officers,” says Squadron Leader Majithia (retd.).

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Squadron Leader Majithia (retd.) made his closing recorded flight on January 16, 1979.

His story has been described as “a story of faith, courage and adventure” by Pushpinder Singh Chopra, India’s foremost aerospace historian. By the time he graduated as a pilot, he was okay to be adjudged the right pilot of his course.

Squadron Leader Majithia (retd.) went on to fly quite a few aircraft with the Indian Air Force all through the pre-independence interval along with the Westland Wapiti IIA, the Hawker Audax and Hart which outfitted No. 1 Squadron, the IAF’s sole squadron on the time.

After initially being assigned to Coast Defence Flights the place he flew maritime patrols over the Bay of Bengal, he was re-assigned to No.6 Squadron, Indian Air Force, which was shortlisted to perform most likely probably the most superior aircraft on this planet on the time, the legendary Hawker Hurricane.

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On 23 April, 1949, Squadron Leader Majithia landed in Kathmandu, Nepal. This was the first landing of an aircraft throughout the Kathmandu Valley.

The Hurricane was the first struggle aircraft to transcend 300 mph in diploma flight and was terribly versatile. More than 300 variants of the Hurricane had been supplied to the IAF between 1942 and 1944. The fighter went on to develop to be the backbone of operations throughout the Assam and Burma campaigns.

Dalip Singh Majithia would go on to serve in East India and fly over the Burma entrance beneath the command of the legendary Baba Meher Singh, who was honoured with a Distinguished Service Order all through the Second World War and went on to get a Maha Vir Chakra for his place throughout the 1947-48 battle with Pakistan.

“Every mission [on the Burma front] was very difficult but we just had to find the Japanese but their use of camouflage was very good.” Flying missions over quite a few the densest jungles on Earth was an unimaginable drawback for the Squadron. The Japanese military was transferring ahead in the direction of India and we needed to detect them.”

The Hurricanes of No.6 Squadron had been assigned to take vertical and oblique pictures. They would fly in two aircraft formations. In each sortie, “the ‘Leader’ took photos and did the recce work and his No.2, the ‘Weaver’, protected the leader’s tail” from enemy interceptors and ground hearth.

With the surrender of the Japanese and the Second World War winding down, Dalip Singh Majithia was chosen to be a part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces and moved to BCOF Headquarters in Melbourne, the place he met Joan Sanders (whose father was with the British Indian Army). On 18 February, 1947, he married Joan at his family dwelling in Gorakhpur the place the family had considerable land holdings and enterprise pursuits.

He was persuaded to go away the Indian Air Force nonetheless clearly, his love for flying in no way waned.

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Dalip Singh Majithia retired as a Squadron Leader throughout the Indian Air Force in August 1947, the 12 months of our independence.

“Just before the end of the war, the Americans sold all their aircraft in India and my uncle bought these two L5 light aircraft.” But making these aircraft flight-worthy was no easy job. “We had no mechanic,” says the Squadron Leader. My uncle and he have been in cost and he used to return and examine the magnetos of the plane.” Miraculously, the aircraft had been repaired effectively.

The family went on to amass two Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft. These had been four-seater aircraft, thought-about certainly one of which went on to make aviation historic previous with Dalip Singh Majithia on the controls.

On 23 April, 1949, Dalip Singh Majithia landed in Kathmandu, Nepal. This was the first landing of an aircraft throughout the Kathmandu Valley and adopted a request from the Prime Minister, Mohan Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana. In a letter to the Indian Ambassador, the Prime Minister of Nepal requested, “I have been wondering if it would be possible to make use of small transport planes to carry paddy to Kathmandu Valley after the rains, knowing that Dakotas require a landing ground which would be difficult to get ready.”

“My uncle (Surjit Singh Majithia) was the Ambassador and he was very keen for me to meet the PM.” The dialog moved to flights into Nepal with permission being granted in quick time.

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On 18 February, 1947, Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia (retd.) married Joan Sanders at his family dwelling in Gorakhpur the place the family had considerable land holdings and enterprise pursuits.

Majithia’s passion for aviation continued for quite a few a very long time. He made his closing recorded flight on January 16, 1979, as soon as extra in a Beechcraft Bonanza. Over a time-frame, the family received right here to amass quite a few planes. Some of these nonetheless energetic on-air structure duties with Saraya Air Charters, quite a few the others are literally retired.

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