Wednesday, November 29, 2006

When Angels Troop Down

Anil Warrier

When Angels Troop Down B.S. Krishna Kumar, wing commander: Hero for his prompt reaction and brave risk-taking

JOHN MARY on B.S. Krishna Kumar
Wing Commander Krishna Kumar is sure he will be one of the very few pilots to ever have flown a rescue mission in a pyjama and a pair of borrowed slippers. It is a year after the tsunami and he can afford to joke. When the ocean bed went into paroxysms that morning, the islanders of Car Nicobar, India's eastern outpost where Kumar was stationed, were just stirring out after the previous night's X'mas revelry.

Kumar, woken up by his wife Bindu Lakshmi, first ignored the warning. The area was tremor-prone and small quakes were a norm. But within seconds, they heard a titanic rumble. When they picked up their children, Lakshmi Priya and Mukund, and managed to get out, Kumar couldn't believe his eyes. The beach, hardly 100 m from his residence, was inundated. Structures nearby had given way. His wife's shriek went up in the air: "The waves are coming".

Kumar describes it as "a Napoleonic invasion closing in on all sides". He turned back and headed for the airfield with wife and kids. In the scramble, an equally bewildered station chief, Group Captain V.V. Bandopadhyay, said: "Take off and see what's happening". Kumar, who commanded the MI-8 copter flight at Car Nicobar, was airborne in minutes with Flight Lt Vijay Kumar at the radio. "The start-up took less than 30 seconds. In an outpost like ours, the machine is kept ready all 24 hours," said Kumar.

They radioed Chennai, 1,500 km away, in what was later to be the first portent of the tragedy to strike the Indian peninsula. Giant trees floated on the beach. Waves had invaded more than a kilometre of land. He could only hope that his wife and kids were safe as he saw people crying for help. "The priority in such tragic hours is not one's own family but others in utmost distress," said Kumar.

During the five-and-a-half-hour operation, Kumar and crew ferried 352 people to the airfield which was on a 15-ft elevation. Often, he strained at the controls to keep balance as survivors clambered on to the winch in twos and threes. He hoped the winch would bear the weight because its permissible load was 150 kg. Half way through, still in his pyjamas and slippers, when the first copter ran short of fuel, he hopped on to the second. He hauled in a ladder from the fire tender and dropped it on the ramp, asking survivors to descend.

It was during the change of copter that one officer thumbed up to say Kumar's family was okay. That night iaf created yet another history, by night-flying the Bay of Bengal. Kumar and mates lit up the runway with kerosene lamps for the first relief plane to land.

Kumar was conferred the Kirti Chakra. There isn't much left of his material possessions in his quarters of the southern air command in Thiruvananthapuram. His costliest acquisition since the tsunami is a fridge. Of course, tsunami operation mementos fill the space.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Op Vijay medal

The Operation Vijay medal - given for being on the strength of the Armed Forces during the Kargil War

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Tank Destroyer from Chandigarh Rock Garden

Originally uploaded by J I G I S H A.
a picture of the tank destroyer - atleast the obscene graffiti has been removed! :)

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The Indian Air Force - Suryakiran Aerobatic Team (Music by Les Lewis)

The Suryakirans are a nine aircraft aerobatic team of the Indian Air Force operating the HAL HJT16 Kiran Jet Trainers. The team is based at Air Force Station Bidar and regularly undertakes aerobatics display at various events across India and other countries in Asia.

This particular video was taken at the Combined Graduation Day parade at the Air Force Academy Dundigal in June 2005.

The soundtrack is the excellent "Mission Udaan Theme Song" by noted musician/singer Les Lewis of India.

The Mission Udaan song can be downloaded from the National Geographic India Website's Mission Udaan download page at .

More information on the Indian Air Force can be seen at [Bharat Rakshak] Website.

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Indian Air Force's MiG 21 Bison's get 1000 flying hours extension | India Defence

"These results
come after NAL's successful completion of Full-Scale Fatigue Testing (FSFT) on
the MiG 21 Bison Airframe C-2090. With this the IAF's Total
Technical Life Enhancement (TTLE) project has come to an end.

The Air
Force's Bison fleet is of 150 aircraft which originally had 2400 hours of flying
as per the Russian certification, however the Air Force went for the Life
Enhancement Test at NAL."

So thats one airframe that has been wringed out in fatigue tests.

Monday, July 31, 2006

The Class of 1965 : Indian Express Review of my book

Yesterday, 30th July 2006, Indian Express did a two page spread about our 65 Air War book - the first time that the main stream media devoted some space to us. And what a space - two whole pages is something I wouldnot have thought off! Posted by Picasa

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

M48 Patton at Army HQ, Patiala

Originally uploaded by rohit_markande.
Rohit Markande's great photo on Flickr shows a M48 Patton at the ARmy HQ at Patiala.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Does anyone in East Godavari have any idea?

A great photograph from World War II, A Boulton-Paul Defiant named "East Godavari III" of the Madras Presidency Squadron (I forget the number).

Having travelled around East Godavari several times, I wonder if anyone in that district has any clue that a fighter took to the skies in Great Britain, with their Districts name emblazoned on it?

My friend answers me - the poor sods probably had to pay some tax or were forced to cough up the contribution by the Madras govt, so they would not even have bothered...!!!

But still its a fascinating discovery to find EAST GODAVARI III Posted by Picasa

Thursday, May 04, 2006

HF-24 "Marut"

HF-24 "Marut"
Originally uploaded by cell105.
Vivek Patankars photograph of the HF-24 Mk1R from the Nehru Sc Center in Mumbai.

The Science center gets full marks for providing the enclosure to protect the aircraft

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

A jolly good daredevil who shot down enemy planes

The Tribune, Chandigarh, India - NCR stories

An Old archived article on Wing Commander Trevor J oseph Keelor, cr edited with the first aircombat kill in the IAF

A jolly good daredevil who shot down enemy planesParmindar Singh
Noida, December 8Trevor Joseph Keelor, who had the distinction of being the first IAF pilot to have shot down an enemy aircraft in a dogfight, was a happy-go-lucky boy. He was also an excellent sportsman and all-round athlete at school and a popular officer in IAF.
He was commissioned into the IAF in November 1954, little knowing that he would one day carve a niche for himself and achieve a coveted place in the annals of IAF for his epoch-making heroic exploits and achievements.
On September 3, 1965, was a historic day for Keelor. At 7 am, his section at Pathankot was asked to intercept a formation of F-86 Sabre jets backed by F-104 state-of-the-art supersonic fighters of the Pakistan Air Force. Trevor was leading the section of four Gnet aircraft. The interception took place over the Chhamb Battle Field, where the Indian Army was holding back the Pakistan Armoured division, trying to break through to capture the Akhnoor Bridge, the main link to Kashmir.
Trevor immediately engaged the enemy aircraft in a fierce dogfight. Later, he shot down a Sabre Jet. This was a historic moment for the IAF and the country, as with it Keelor became the first Indian pilot to have shot down an enemy aircraft in a war in India’s history. Trevor went on to fly over 20 sorties against the enemy and by the time the war ended, he shot down an enemy spotter plane, which had intruded into our territory near Amritsar.
For this heroic act, Trevor was awarded the Vayu Sena medal for bringing back a Gnat aircraft with the throttle stuck and a Vir Chakra for gallantry.
As a Fighter Pilot, first he was posted to No.1 Squadron, Palam. Initially, Wing Commander Keelor flew Vampires, Hunters and then joined the famous No. 23 Squadron, which had introduced the Gnats Aircraft into the IAF. Keelor had qualified as a Pilot Attack Instructor and an Instrument Flying Examiner.
After the war, Trevor was selected to attend the Higher Command Staff College Course in England at Andover, and returned to New Delhi to hold an important post in the Directorate of Air Defence in Air Headquarters.
Therewith, he went on to Command No. 23 Squadron, which was based at Srinagar and retired from the Air Force in 1978.
Trevor had later worked in various assignments in Iraq and Saudi Arabia before returning to India in the 1990s, when the Civil Aviation Industry was under going dramatic changes. He was chosen as the Chief Operations Officer of Archuna Airways. Staying in that capacity, he set up the new airline and directed its operations with distinction.
Born on December 8, 1934, in Lucknow, Trevor Joseph Keelor had studied in St Francis’ High School, Lucknow, St Georges College, Mussorie, and La Martiniere College, Lucknow, before joining the Indian Air Force in 1953. At school, he excelled in sports, an all-round excellent athlete and was fond of music.
Trevor retired from his service in 1998 and lived peacefully with his wife Patsy and three sons at Sector 25, Noida.Trevor Joseph Keelor passed away on April 27, 2002, after a brief illness. He was very popular with the boys, who served under him and provided excellent leadership. He was very attached to his family and was a devoted husband and a caring father.
“He loves music, dancing and had a good sense of humour,” recalls Trevor’s wife Patsy. The friends, colleagues and family members miss their beloved Trevor Keelor, they fondly remember him for his sense of dignity in his splendour personality.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

A twist to the Gilgit Rebellion

The above link to a blog gives a probable motive as to why a serving British Officer took things into his own hands and organised a mutiny in Gilgit against the governor - Brig Ghansara Singh

There is a story that Major Browne Commandant of the Gilgit Scouts was so
incensed by the Brig Ghansara Singh’s act of trampling the Union Jack after
it was pulled down
that he actually planned the revolt against the Dogra
governor. It is said the plan was kept so secret that the Thum of Hunza &
Mir of Nagar had no inkling of it although their relatives & followers were
also involved in the subsequent actions. One of them Babar, was the brother in
law of the late Mir of Hunza Jamal Khan & another was his uncle Shah Khan
later a Wing Commander in the PAF. Then there was Colonel Hassan & others
Muslim officers of the Kashmir State Forces. Ghansara Singh was arrested but not
before he had put up a brave resistance.

I believe that Major Brownes papers are in the collection of some archive in UK, or at the very least some papers put together by Brig Ghansara singh on the episode..

This page quotes from Ghansara Singh's book:

Brig. Ghansara Singh the last Dogra governor who was captured by the famous
Gilgit Scouts in November, 1947. He writes: "As I had ordered Lt. Col. Abdul
Majid Khan on 31st October 1947 to reach Gilgit immediately, so I was expecting
him at any time as he was one of our loyal servants. Had he reached Gilgit as
ordered, the picture might have been different, but to our misfortune, Captain
Hassan Khan of 6th J&K Infantry instead reached Gilgit same morning.

Now , if we can find a copy of that book!

DAWN - Letters; June 6, 2003

DAWN - Letters; June 6, 2003

From the above link, two quotes were of interest to me:

Brig Ghansara Singh was the governor of the Gilgit province. He was also a
cousin of Maharaja of Jammu and Kashmir. Brig Ghansara Singh also wrote a book
under the title of Last Days of Gilgit and Baltistan.

I have heard of this book by Brig Singh. Apparently the papers of Maj Brown, the British officer who led the rebellion are in the collection of the Imperial War Museum. They also have a copy of the book written by Brig Ghansara Singh.

Air Marshal Asghar Khan’s father, Brig Rehmat Khan “Tahker”, a former
commander-in-chief of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (he was awarded the title
of “Tahker” by the Maharaja of Kashmir), was also once appointed governor of the
Gilgit province by the Maharaja of Kashmir

Proves what I read in PN Sharmas book 'Inside Occupied Kashmir' - excerpts of which are on the Bharat-Rakshak Website. Sharma writes that he and Flt Lt U D'Cruz were exchanged with Brig Rahmatullah and Wg Cdr Asghar Khan, his son came to pick him up. This was the only reference i found that Rahmatullah was actually a 'POW' in India. How he ended up in India was never mentioned. The above para, now confirms that Rahmatullah was the ex-cinc of the JAK State forces. the pieces fall into place

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Go Air's Pretty Pink aircraft

Seen taxying one early morning in December 2005 at the Chatrapathi Shivaji International Airport.

Its novel of them to have their Internet Website URL on the aircraft..

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