The next morning at 0430 hours there is a knock on PABX’s door. He opens it and finds Bobcat with the BOSSMAN’S Ambassodor car. PABX says he is taking his wife for sick report. Bobcat informs him “Compliments of the BOSS the car is for the use of his wife”.
PABX gets ready and says the wife is feeling better.
PABX starts his Lambretta Scooter and Bobcat follows suit in the Car.
PABX is wearing Flt.Lt. rank badges. On turning the first corner he does a ritual of “Changin on The Fly”. At the Met Briefing Hall PABX is wearing Fg.Offr. rank badges.
In those years there was an exam called “PART- B”. You had to pass this exam after five years service. The Air Force did a snap check one day and discovered that many an officer had failed to do so and so in one signal reduced many an officer from acting Flt.Lt. to Substantive Fg.Offr. PABX was one such victim. He realized that this small anamoly was not to be informed to the better half. So he was Ghar Me Sher(Flt.Lt.) Raste pe Fg.Offr.
One HF-24 Trainer and one fighter were the sole property of Bobcat to train and complete the Conversion of PABX. Bobcat rode him like a monkey on his back and completed his conversion training in record time.
Needless to say excessive supervision and pre-emptive solutions were ever present.
PABX followed some S.O.P’S. of his own.
He wore dog tags that were in the shape of wooden beads.
While collecting his helmet from the crew room he would open his locker and mumble some mumbo jumbo and throw ash over his shoulder.
The flights and the hangars were separated by a grassy knoll with a few trees. He would stop at two trees and have a conversation with them. Bobcat soon painted a CROSS on one tree and the OM on an another tree.
He would read the Form 700 like a Law Manual.
His externals were more thorough than a ATP/PTP/MP.
All sorties were a supervised start.
Bobcat was kindly assisted by an engineering officer and ten dedicated ground crew who were ever alert.
Runway 23 was in use most of the time and so Airmen were positioned at various intervals to guide PABX to the 23 V/A point.
On the second solo sortie PABX from the Vital Action Point calls the ATC and says “Feeding MATRA Permission to enter Runway and taxy to dispersal.” He comes back to dispersal and switches off.
The MATRA FUEL TANK GUAGE was located on the right bottom of the Instrument Panel and occasionally it would swing fully left to ZERO and after pausing at this position for a milli second and it would creep up to 40 gallon mark and jump back to full. All this happened in a flash and it was normal. (May be the Head Honcho Spanner could throw some light on the AC/DC mechanics of it)
All this would happen in the blink of an eye.
PABX explains he saw the Matra Fuel Gauge do this and thought that the aircraft was not refueled and so came back. To please him the aircraft is topped up with a few gallons and the right engine is started first. Bobcat waits patiently for the twitch of the Matra Fuel Gauge and on the STR 9X tells PABX all is A-OKAY. The left engine is started and sends him off.
On his tenth solo sortie the Runway in use is 05 and before the escort service is in position PABX turns right in the dispersal, right again at the end of the dispersal, left on to the taxy track. For some inexplicable reason he turns left at the loop taxy track. He then spots a blast pen on his left and turns into it. He stops the aircraft switches off and radios he is at a dead end and so has switched off.
The PABX assistance team goes into high gear and the gang lands up at the aircraft with a
Two Starter Trolleys
Bottle of water.
PABX says the aircraft turned into the loop taxy track and the blast pen on its own. The vibuthi made the aircraft do it.
He is asked to be in the cock pit and given a drink of water and the aircraft is turned around and given a start.
Bobcat leads the way in the jeep with the STR-9X and acts as a follow me jeep.
Bobcat flies as chase pilot on a few sorties to ensure PABX does the required sortie profile.
Soon the conversion comes to an end and tension is relieved. PABX moves on to the TIGER outfit and as they say the rest is history.
A few years later Bobcat lands in KKD with a detachment of Type-96 Aircraft for Air to Air live. Imagine his chagrin when the officer and pilot conducting the Air to Air briefing is none other than PABX. Bobcat holds his comments and peace.
PABX was now flying and old paint peeling Hunter with a steel cable trailing behind him and a banner attached to it. The whole lot of Air Defence Pilots of the Air Force(God Bless Their Poor Eye Sight) would fire live ammunition a few feet behind his BOT-TOM.
PABX became the bravest pilot of the IAF. It goes to his credit that on all 12 days of the detachment he did a tow, three sorties a day without fail. He repeated the same on the detachment the next year. I guess being an old Marut comrade helped.
While flipping the satellite TV channel circuit the other day I saw PABX on TV in a Saville Row suit and Dagger Squadron tie waxing eloquently about the world and IAF matters. He was being referred to respectfully by the T V anchor lady as the THE AIR FORCE EXPERT. The other guests were Generals and Air Chief Marshalls.
Pappu Bakshi you are a better man than us Marut Mortals “GANGA DIN .”
Flt.Lt/Fg.Offr.PABX- Pappu Bakshi
Boss. German background/origin CKK “M”
A.T.P. ASTE TEST PILOT
P.T.P – Production/Prototype.Test Pilot
M.P.– Mascarenhas Pilot.
Bobcat as Bobcat.
Unsung Heroes Maini and his staff.
© Copyright Sam Sekhar and Marutfans. All rights reserved. Reproduction or distribution of this article in any form without the express written permission of the author is prohibited.