Recording probably a rare flight history for the Indian Air Force's (IAF) Flying Instructor's School (FIS), a father and son flew a Chetak helicopter together. According to N Andavan, Public Relations Officer (Chennai), the event was a rare occurrence in the history of IAF's FIS situated in Tambaram.
Flying together was Air Marshal Arun Purushottam Garud, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Southern Air Command and his son Lieutenant Commander Abhijeet Garud. The father-son flight happened at Air Force Station, Tambaram, on March 30.
Lieutenant Commander Abhijeet is a naval aviator undergoing the Qualified Flying Instructor's (QFI).
"The duo flew for over an hour and the father taught his son the finer nuances of instructional flying," Andavan said.
Air Marshal Garud is a Category-A QFI. He had held position as a directing staff at FIS earlier.
According to officials, Air Marshal Garud has rich and varied experience on operational flying, training and staff assignments. He is a senior QFI and has flown in excess of 6300 hours on various helicopters and training aircraft in his career.
After putting in close to four decades of Service in IAF, Air Marshal Garud is retiring by the end of May this year. In November 2013, the then Chief of Air Staff Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne had flown his last sortie in a Sukhoi at the Pune base.
Browne flew along with his son Squadron Leader Omar Browne from the Lohegaon air base, ahead of his retirement. In the mid-90s, at the Air Force Academy (AFA) in Dundigal, near Hyderabad, a father-daughter duo had flown together in the mid-90s as part of their training schedule.
The then Commandant of ASTE Air Vice Marshal K M Nair had a sortie along with his daughter, who was a flight cadet with the AFA then. The duo flew in a Kiran Mk-II aircraft. (This Correspondent had interviewed the duo then.)
According to noted IAF historian Jagan Pillarisetti a.k.a. P V S Jagan Mohan, six father-son teams flew and demonstrated their aerobatic skills in various parts of the country on October 7,1992.
Jagan says that this was part of the Diamond Jubilee celebrations of IAF and the only occasion when so many father-son teams took to the air.
Dream come true for me, says Air Marshal
Speaking to OneIndia, Air Marshal Garud said that it was priceless moment for him to fly with his son.
"It was a God-given opportunity. For us to fly together, the time and space all came together. It's a dream come true for me. I want my next seven generation to be in the armed forces. My daughter is already married to a naval officer as well," said Air Marshal Garud.
He said flying with son took him back to his early days of flying. "Yes, it was a flight down memory lane for me as well. But inside the cockpit we were true professionals. We conducted very professionally in the cockpit. No emotions in the cockpit. He saw the professional pilot in me and I saw the professional pilot in him as well," the senior IAF official added.
The Air Marshal said their flying together gifted great memories of a lifetime in addition to creating a wonderful harmony between the IAF and the Navy.
(The writer is a seasoned aerospace and defence journalist in India. He is the Consultant Editor (Defence) with OneIndia. He tweets @writetake)