By ANURAG RANAfor Livefist | Aviation has had a history of about 100 years – in which the field has grown by leaps and bounds – especially the field of military aviation. The Indian Air Force has had the fortune of participating in a good 80 years of this development of flight, and over the course of time has flown various types of aircraft. Many of these aircraft in which the early pioneers pushed the envelope of flight have long ceased to fly and have been standing still in the IAF Museam - Palam in Delhi.
Starting with a commonwealth origin, many of these aircraft participated in WWII – stopping the march of the invincible Japanese over India, and after Independence defended the homeland on multiple occasions. Take for example the de Havilland Tiger Moth biplane of 1930 origin, long used to train a generation of Indian pilots before they went on to fly Hawker Hurricanes and Supermarine Spitfires in battle. It is about time that these aircraft were put back where they belong – in the skies.
The IAF has partnered with a UK company – Reflight (http://www.reflight.co.uk/vintage_flight.html) to restore a few of these vintage aircraft and form the IAF Vintage Flight (IAF VF) Squadron. The IAF VF will appear to the public as an emblem for remembrance and inspiration. There are currently two aircraft – the Tiger Moth biplane and Harvard under renovation/refurbishment in the UK, with about 6 more to follow. The Tiger Moth has already had a major renovation done with the airframe and the engine restored and put to a test – as shown in the above video. The most important test – of making the machine fly in the air is expected to take place in another week. RAF Pilot Mike Edwards, OBE (Order of the British Empire – for services to the Crown) is the Chief Advisor and Architect of the IAF Vintage Flight – and is both the source of this video and sitting in the cockpit in the footage. He will be flying the machine on its first sortie after restoration.
Upon its successful flight, the Tiger Moth will be crated and shipped to India, and if all goes well – will make its first public appearance on the 80th IAF Day – 8th October 2012. Upon restoration of the rest of the vintage aircraft as well – the IAF could boast of having such precious gems like the only flying 1920s Westland Wapiti (the aircraft which heralded the birth of the IAF), the only flying Hawker Tempest of the WWII Era, a Hawker Hurricane which is a veteran of the famous Battle of Britain and which formed a part of the squadron commanded by Marshal of the Air Force (then Sqn Ldr) Arjan Singh, DFC WWII. It will also include vintage indigenous aircrafts like the HTS-2seater training aircraft, IAF Vampire and the very famous ‘Sabre Slayer’ – the British origin Gnat that later became indigenous into ‘Ajeet’. With proper care and support – these vintage machines will fly well into another century of their lives, and the IAF Vintage Flight will very well be the finest in the region – and amongst the best in the world continuing to inspire a future generation of aviators.