Friday, February 08, 2013

Indian Air Force top guns from another era to fly soon

Bengaluru: First, the Tiger Moth. Next, the Harvard. Then the Spitfire, Tempest, Hurricane and Lysander! The Indian Air Force is to have not one but multiple vintage aircraft squadrons in the coming years.

“A restored Harvard vintage aircraft is all set to fly in India in two months’ time,” a senior official of the Indian Air Force told Deccan Chronicle. As soon as the Harvard — an advanced trained used by India in 1950s and 1960s — is ready, India will start working on restoring other vintage aircraft to “flying worthy condition” such as the Tempest, Hurricane and Lysander, followed by the Wapiti.

“The Indian Air Force is eagerly awaiting the arrival of the vintage aircraft. Each of these machines is unique in its own way. But the Wapiti has a special significance. When the Royal Indian Air Force was launched as the Indian Air Force in 1932, the No.1 Squadron IAF used four Westland Wapiti Biplanes,” the official said.

Much of the interest in restoring aircraft from that era has stemmed from the unexpected popularity of the Tiger Moth, the first vintage aircraft that took to the skies after it was renovated by India with the help of a British company.

India had four or five vintage aircraft in flying worthy condition till 1989. After an air crash (which curiously did not involve a vintage aircraft), India decided not to fly vintage aircraft and they were all parked at the Indian Air Force Museum, Palam. In the year 2005, India initiated the process of restoration of old aircraft and the first of the lot- the Tiger Moth – on display at the ongoing Aero India 2013 show - was ready in October last year and was displayed during Air Force Day parade on October 8 last year at Hindon air base. 


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