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.