By Air Cmde AD (Chibs) Chhibbar (Retd)
I was a young Flying officer detailed to fly as a No2 to the Flt Cdr (Sqn Ldr AK Choudhury) for a RP(T-10) sortie at Dulangmukh Range. The wav to DM Range was uneventful. We did the regulatory safety height run and then settled down to the circuit pattern. Chou fired the first rocket followed by me. Both rockets went in the desired direction without disturbing the target. Chou went in for the second pass and fired the rocket. I was on base leg then. The RSO called up” Rocket not sighted. Confirm NO FIRE”. Chou in his cool voice called up ” I have fired but the rocket has hit my drop tank. Chibs , setting course for base, join up”.(The T-10 rocket had a habit of going haywire since these were all life -expired. The rocket Chou fired, did a hard left on leaving the rails and blew off half of the left drop tank) Things happened so fast that I lost sight of Chou. So I asked him his position. “Over Helam III”, he called. I was foxed because around Tezpur there was “Helam I & Helam II” but where was this Helam III? So I belted towards Helam II hoping to catch up with chou there. Reached the point but no sight of Chou! So I decided to catch him at the rejoin point (Point South). But once again “No Joy”. In the mean time Chou called up “Approching High Key”. “AhaI I will catch him at low key” So I positioned myself over low key at a higher height but could not spot Chou. Then I heard a call ” Turning finals”. Thats where I spotted him and did a near Mach dive to catch up with him. My speed was a shade higher than him and as he touched down I overshot him, did a circuit, approach and landing. The CO (Indru Shahani) was in the ATC during the whole episode, quite oblivious of my predicament. When I reached the crew room, everyone was there. The CO put an arm around me and told the gathering “I am happy that a young, inexperienced pilot escorted the Flt Cdr right up to the touchdown point. This is how formation members must assist each other in an emergency”!!! It was a sheepish me who then set the record straight by narrating the facts. Result: I had to stand beer to everyone!!!