“The first time I saw the HF 24, was in Jamnagar in 1968, when I was a ‘pilo’. We were there for a week for the Hunter OCU. I had seen pictures of the aircraft before, but not the real thing. I fell in love with it immediately (even today I count it among the best looking aircraft in the world), if I remember right it was voted just that at the Paris air show; but Kapil Sir would be better informed. Anyway, to get on with my tale, it became a dream, almost an obsession to be able to fly it. We were not permitted to even step up the ladder to peek into the cockpit and we (at least I) thought that the pilots flying it must God’s gift to aviation. The junior most pilot was a senior Flt Lt (I think) and they were considered big in those days.
Well some dreams do come true, and in April 1971, Keru (Fg Offr KR Singh) and I were the junior most pilots to be posted to an HF Squadron. There were no trainers and after a very short dual check on the Hunter Trainer, (late AM Pete Gaynor had taken us to Hindon for it) I was briefed by him, and even to this day, the most memorable experience of my life has been flying the HF solo for the first time. Quite unlike the Hunter, she was not too easy to fly, but what a beauty she was inside and out.
I must have flown about 50 hours and then for reasons beyond my control, got to come back to an HF Sqn only in 1976. By then it was no longer ‘blue eyed’ and to add insult to injury, after having quite a bit of flying experience, I was sitting on the ground for six months, as there was a trainer version and it was mandatory to be given a dual check before being permitted to fly solo. My arguments, rationalizing and pleading that I had flown the aircraft solo when I had less than 300 hrs experience fell on deaf ears. (Rules are rules, you know!!)
Well, a lot of water (some murky) has flown under the HF bridge and an aircraft with potential was junked. However, my dream, that became reality is still very fresh in my life and lives on.
I wish I could be there for the gathering but sadly other commitments don’t permit it. I wish all the HFers all the very best and have a blast”