The Pilot Research Institute of GOSH based at Somerset,England carried out a study of the cost of training a Military pilot and the cost of keeping him in peak form as a lean and mean GOSH Combat  pilot.

The training period was pegged at 12 months.

The life cycle of peak performance as a Combat Pilot  was set at 30 years of high intensive flying.

This included a minimum of 12 hours a week. 40 plus hours a month. 500 plus hours per year.

The calculations took in to effect the rising cost of living, machinery and the associated modernization.This was the overall cost to the Air Force per PILOT.

The researchers came out with the following figures.

Overall Cost Of Training A Pilot Per Month $ 1 Million. 12 months $12 Million.

Cost of maintaining the Pilot at peak performance was $1 Million per month.

Cost over 30 years $ 360 Million per combat pilot.

When you visualize that the whole Air Force was working to keep the airplanes airborne, you can visualize the cost.



 A slew of Type-77’s made an unscheduled landing in HASIMARA.The aircrew were greeted and hosted by the Black Panther lot in their crew room,while waiting for the support aircraft to land and do the turn around servicing.

Two School mates from Bishop Cottons Bangalore fire up the Old School comradeship and get talking.

 Vaps Nair tells  Sam Sekhar that he is looking at the “ Creme Fraiche “ of the Indian Air Force. Vaps further elaborates that the two best Officers and Gentlemen of the Air Force are the two commanding officers. He further goes on to beat his chest and says that all officers serving under them have been promised the Top Of  The Pops as long as they are medically fit.

The Motley Crew he was pointing to were the following:


Bertie Weir. Quit for greener pastures in Australia or England.

Polly Mehra.  Chief

Keecha.  Chief

Bundle Tyagi.  Chief.

Bo Pathak.   QFI, FCL, IraqAttache and up.

Po Po Sahai.   QFI, FCL, Iraq, Attache and up.

Cee Dee C’sekhar.  QFI, FCL, Iraq. AOC and up.

Sukuth “Scooter” Raj,  QFI,FCL,Iraq, Attache and up.

Vaps.   QFI,FCL. Iraq, Attache and up.


(Sam’s Note.

Vaps was posted out of another unit later in life and he was not too much of a Buddy with that Bossman.They had their differences let us say. Came the day of his farewell party and it was the turn of Vaps to give his vote of thanks. He went up to the dais along with his wife and after thanking every one for the lovely evening he looked the BOSSMAN right in the eye and said “Sir I thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

He and his wife turned around.

Vaps continued  “I also thank you from my Wife’s Bottom” with his hand slightly resting on her bottom.  Pandemonium broke loose.


Sam being of Good Squadron Spirit tells Vaps that the Hasimara lot also have their Super Stars.

Sam points to Station Master Laxman Katre and says Chief.

Vaps agrees and adds Laxman smokes too much.

Sam points to Bossman Rusty Sinha and says Chief.

Vaps agrees and adds the only fly in Rusty’s career is the sequence of his service number. He goes on to say Rusty is one number junior to Polly Mehra. He then refers to the OLD AIR FORCE SAYING



Both will qualify for the position of CHIEF. Polly will become CHIEF as he is one number senior. Rusty while waiting for his turn looses out to retirement age.

Sam then points to Keru, Chick,and Himself and says Ace Of Aces.

Vaps diplomatically says “ NO COMMENT “ and pleads “ THE FIFTH “.

Soon the Sports Cars take off on their journey to Tezpur.



The wise men of other Air Forces recognized the high potential of the Combat Pilots and made adjustments to ensure they had a long flying career.

One Air Force sat down the Pilots at the tenth year of their service and explained the various avenues available to them.

Career Officer.

Aviator Officer.

Deputed to Saudi Air Force.

Deputed to OMAN Air Force.

Deputed to Singapore Air Force.

Deputed to Civil Aviation.

The US Air Force had a vast variety of aircraft inventory and so no pilot left till retirement.

The aviation wing personnel staff of the NAVY was the most efficient in the world. On granting Commission and aviator wings to the officer they gave him his whole career till retirement in writing. This included his dates of serving in various bases/aircraft carrier and the courses he would undergo. This NAVY had also the most number of outstanding/splendid uniforms.

Their planning was very thorough. It was the month of september in a particular year that planning of offensive strikes were done with the names of the pilots’ and the aircraft serial numbers. In addition the citations for gallantry awards for various pilots/officers and seamen were made ready.

Three months later the skirmish started and as soon as the first strikes landed on the first day the gallantry awards were announced.

The Air Force and the Army were far behind in the line up for the awards.


Or more realistically “EARLY BIRD SCOOPS THE AWARDS “



The Air Force on the other hand bequeathed us the P-57.

This was not the Stealth Fighter manufactured by the H A L.

This was not the Indian derivative of the famous American Republic P-47 THUNDERBOLT.

Yes Sir this was the “ ANNUAL CONFIDENTIAL REPORT “.

This was a form that was raised on an Air Force Officer once a year.

Unfortunately this was filled in/penned in english.

98 percent of the ACR writers’ mother tongue was not english.

The problem was in built as the ACR writer thought in his mother tongue and wrote in english.

The best weapon in this report was that it was “ CONFIDENTIAL” to the officer on whom it was being raised.

This way many an officer felt the pain of the “ Hyderabad Golis “ in their 17th/18th/and 19th year of their service careers.

The format of the P-57 was in two parts.One part referred to a series of traits of the officer ranging in numbers from 1 to 9.

An officer receiving an average of 4 or below was deemed to be a dolt. Prior to giving an officer this figure he was to be given a series of warnings. All procedures were in written english. The ACR writers solved their english writing problem by giving a majority of officers an aggregate of 5.

The second part of the ACR was a PEN PICTURE to be written by the ACR writer on the officer in english.

To best illustrate the challenges that faced an ACR writer please imagine if these two stalwarts were the Pulitzer Prize writers.


π  = pi sids

This officer was commissioned with a four figure service number in The General Duties Pilots Branch.He was a true Son Of The Punjab and hailed from a small PIND about 20 miles from the district capital “ HOSHIYARPUR “. He spoke Punjabi mostly with a smattering of english. He progressed in the fighter field and was a reasonable competent pilot. I guess he survived because most of the fighter units were in the Punjab/Haryana. During one summer the AEB deputed him to conduct the AEB visit to 24 squadron due to paucity of Type-96 qualified inspectors. In due course he arrived and let it be known to all and sundry that he was a great worshipper of “ I AM BAWA and CEE DEE “ and he always touched their feet in respect. When told to tell them himself he said that it would be better if the masses spread the word on his behalf. He was asked to climb a coconut tree.

Like all AEB inspectors after a few AEB trips in the trainer he requested to be programmed for a 2 vs 2.

He was granted his request and Sam and Baldy were pitted against Tarzan Thapar and pi.

During the first situation pi lost contact with the other three aircraft and so the situation was called off. The other three aircraft joined up and were trying to corral pi. The conversation went like this:

SAM-  pi roll out we are six oh clock low.

pi-       Oye Tarzan thoo kithe. ( Hey Tarzan where are you ?)

SAM-  pi all three aircraft are together and behind you six oh clock low.

pi-       Oye Tarzan thoo kithe?

Tarzan Thapar-  Oye pi che bhajanch neeche.( Hey pi six oh clock low)

Needless to say the next situation and the debrief was hilarious.

Contrary to popular belief and all odds pi passed the entrance exam to that so called Mecca Staff College. He soon was more than half way through the course when he was asked to report to the commandant in full dress uniform. The commandant informed him that it has come to the attention of the college that his actions warranted his termination from the course and he was handed his pink slip.

pi was devastated and ran to his good buddy and poured his heart out.

He said in the opening welcoming address the Commandant assured all officers that all will pass out and so to relax and enjoy. He tells his buddy that he has been kicked out as he has the “ PLAGUE “. His buddy looks at the pink slip and asks pi if he used an other officer’s answer paper and submitted it as his own. pi answers yes. His buddy tells him I have some good news and some bad news.

The good news is pi you do not have the “ PLAGUE.”

The bad news is you have been booted out for  “ PLAGIARISM 


The time is early 1971 and three pilots are posted to a Marut squadron bringing the pilot strength to 10. The pilots were Shukla Jee, Sekhar and Keru. One morning the trio were standing on the road in front of the flights and discussing the Hallmarks of the Marut. They hear a voice saying HELLO.  They ignore the voice and once again in a raised voice they hear HELLO HELLO.

They soon spot a squadron pilot who is beckoning them and says


Brother Bhargava, 2011

All three put their right hand to their ears and make the right hand like a phone and say “ HELLO “

Shukla – Do you mean Keru and me or Sam and me.

Keru –  Do you mean Sam and me or Shukla and me.

Sekhar- Do you mean Keru and me or Shukla and me.

The officer “ No No I MEAN BOTH THE THREE OF YOU “

He then turns to the second flight commander and says ‘ Saaar you are English Wala ( ENGLISHMAN ) please explain to both the three idiots. Brian Sylvester De Magry bursts into uncontrollable giggles and disappears in to the crew room.

In due course of time  trio come to hear a story of the HELLO officer. This officer was from the hinterland of Utter Pradesh and did his schooling in the Hindi medium. The 10th class final exams had one paper in english in which a small essay was to be written on a topic. To make it easier for the students only four topics were selected and would come in random order each year. The Hello officer was nervous and to soothe his anxiety his father assured him that in the exam the essay was definitely “ THE ELEPHANT “. The Hello officer learnt the essay by rote. Come exam day the essay is ‘THE TAJ MAHAL “. The Hello officer is stumped and he puts his noggin to work. Eureka he soon has the solution.He writes

“ Daddy take  Taj Mahal.

Gate big elephant stand.

Elephant  big head.

Elephant  big ears.

Elephant  big trunck.

etc etc

Needless to say he failed the english paper.



This ACR writer decides he has the penmanship under control and takes all ACR’S to his residence on a saturday

Oh my! Oh my! And at his age too

afternoon to fill them in due course. Sunday morning he is at his desk nice and early with the pile. His Beautiful Better Half is all set to go to town for the weekly shopping. She stops by at his desk to see why he is not getting ready. She is told the abridged version of the P-57.

The lady picks the first ACR and reads the name. She slaps the ACR writer on his head and screams at him. She explains that she was at the Bank the other day to cash a twenty rupee cheque when she saw this officer come out with the Manager from the Bank office. The Manager is pumping his hand and thanking him profusely for keeping his 4 Kg GOLD BAR in their safe deposit. The Manager tells this officer he can get a loan anytime up to 10 lakhs in an instant.

The ACR writer’s wife asks where is his gold.

The good wife picks up the second ACR and gives a back hand to the ACR writer. She demands to know, how this officer and his beautiful wife go out of the country each year on annual leave. She tells him that in the last two years they have visited Europe, Africa, USA, Canada and next year they are covering South America. bhuvs

She further berates him that he never takes his full quota of annual leave because of the fear of the unknown in his absence. The last time he took her and the kids to his folks place in Bhusawal in the middle of the railway marshaling yards.They were subjected to coal and diesel fuel fumes the whole holidays.

The ACR writer mumbles that the officer’s beautiful wife is the only daughter of a DIPLOMAT. The better half tells the ACR writer it does not let him off the hook.




The ACR writer has had his share of slaps for the day, he tries to put away all the forms. The quick wife grabs one more ACR. Aiyee, Aiyee, Aiyee bellows the good wife and reminds the ACR writer of how he broke the cistern of the W.C. four months ago and the MES replaced it and billed him Rs 400.00.  The ACR writer quickly steps back andDody avoids an upper cut. She tells him that this officer plays bridge with the Garrison Engineer Bhasin twice a week and they are both GRAND MASTERS of the game. Because of this officer’s prowess at cards the G E and him win about Rs 400.– per week. This officer had a fire in his second bedroom, and the whole room was burnt to cinders. The G E had the whole house repaired and outfitted and painted within three days. Total cost to the officer ZERO courtesy his Bridge partner Garrison Engineer Bhasin.



The COUP DE GRACE is she asks him if his MASTER GREEN gets him any money.

The ACR writer caves in and they proceed for shopping and to add to his woes the vegetable  of the day is TINDA.



Monday morning the ACR writer arrives at the squadron with a splitting headache. He comes up with a bright idea of a reverse psychology, where in he calls his Nemesis to his office. He hands him over his ACR and asks him to fill out the form in pencil and also to write the pen picture in pencil. For this task he hands over two pencils. Pilot Nemesis is delighted with the idea and pulls out his best fountain pen and gets to work. In no time he marks the numbers for the traits and writes a superb two page pen picture which makes the ACR glow in the dark.

He summons the Orderly room corporal and hands over the duly completed ACR along with the unused pencils and asks him to slip them in the ACR writer’s in tray.

In 15 minutes there is a loud BELLOW from the Squadron Headquarters complex asking the Pilot Nemesis to report immediately. On entering the ACR writer’s office Pilot Nemesis sees the ACR writer with the ACR on his desk and many tiny pencil bits cluttering the desk. He also notices tiny frothing bubbles forming at the side of the ACR writer’s mouth.

With sarcasm dripping heavily the ACR writer asks Pilot Nemesis to explain his writing actions.

Pilot Nemesis goes in to a full blown thesis.

He commences by saying we the officers of the squadron are the nucleus of the outfit. We pledge every day to defend the Nation with our lives. Every sortie I lead, it is my responsibility to achieve the AIM and bring all pilots back in one piece. As a number 2 or 4 in a formation it is my duty to put myself in Harms Way to save the bacon of the leader or the number 3.

We do all forms of flying and duties as a team.

Pilots/Engineers/Technical Staff/Orderly room/Salwade/Pillai.

Squadron officers priorities are 



Squadron Spirit


Sir Winston Churchill best said it about fighter pilots during WW2. To which one flying officer piped in and said “He is talking about our mess bills.”

Pilot Nemesis in closing says I gave myself an aggregate of 9 like all other officers of the squadron also deserve. The pen picture is my forte.

By now the ACR writer is profusely foaming at the mouth and gesturing to Pilot Nemesis to leave the office.

Pilot Nemesis takes a last shot at redemption and informs the ACR writer that with his permission he will distribute 14 blank P-57 forms to the 14 officers of the squadron.They will each individually and in confidence fill in and write a pen picture on the Bossman. You will learn the 14 varieties of the real you.







The ACR writer calls the DSS and asks the STO to ready two aircraft in the clean configuration.

He calls the Nemesis Pilot and briefs for a 1 vs 1 sortie.

Pilot Nemesis was on top of the pops as he had read the fine print in the HF 24 Manual.



Both aircraft level out abreast 3 km at 15000 feet and increase speed to 450 knots and commence.

Pilot Nemesis turns well inside the ACR writer and reverses and is on his tail at 200 yards. ACR writer does every thing in the book to shake him off. Pilot Nemesis stays attached like a limpet mine at 200 yards 6 oh clock.

Sit 2

Same result.

Sit 3

Same result.

Both aircraft land with fumes in the internal tanks.

No debrief.

The small print said take off flaps can be used up to 450 Knots.

It was like shooting fish in a barrel

There is a form in the Air Force

                      They call it the Pee Fifty Seven

                                       And its been the ruin of many an officer

                                                                       And GOD I know I’m one.


Chief Bald Eagle Radish with D S.



  1. Aditya Sondhi says:

    Sir, fabulous anecdote on the Cottonian connection. How do I reach you for more? Aditya (1991 PW)

  2. batrasc says:

    I was under the impression that he was from Gurgaon or Pataudi in particular. He was a cricketer too.. Initially he might have been confused between Queen’s English and US English (where he went for Sabre training).. His narration of Great Indian Escape is a classic example of Indians willing to take risk to escape as POWs. Regarding Pee Fifty Seven episode, it was OMPACT which created super-session to over come the bulge created by post 62 recruitment for IAF to get manpower for 45 Sqn.. Overall, an interesting article to read. Keep up the show Sam Boo and more chow from Marut Handi…


  3. As far as I remember the HELLO Officer does not hail from the hinterland of UP but is from Patiala. He is now a Haryanvi. Had he been in UP, his Hindi might have improved. But his English h\as by leaps and bounds, the proof is in the mini-book on The Great Indian Escape..

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: