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Memorable Gnat Ferry

By Air Cmde RV Phadke (Retd)

This happened exactly thirty one years ago while I was posted at Hindan. Within a few months of my reporting to No. 23 Sqn. (from DSSC) that was slated to convert to MiG-21 Bis aircraft, all the pilots and aircraft assets were transferred to No. 9 Sqn which was co-located. Flying was at best sporadic. What with modification to Mark 1A the Gnat squadrons were once again experiencing poor serviceability.

By the end of September I had barely flown 35 hours even though I was medically fit and available throughout. On 30 Sep 77 I was to ferry a Gnat to 5 BRD Sulur. With me was Benji who was to go to Bangalore. As I was strapping up, the Instrument Warrant Officer walked up to the side and said with a straight face that the invertor was U/S. When I said I would wait for them to replace it, his reply was that the squadron did not have any. Was I to go without one? This meant no Artificial Horizon, G4F Compass except in the DG mode and most importantly no fire warning system. Sure enough, when the engine started the Doll’s Eye was white and remained so for the entire ferry. Take off and navigation to Jodhpur, refueling and further to Poona was uneventful. Since it was already afternoon, we decided to go to Bangalore/Sulur the next day. That afternoon, some six Gnats had also landed at Poona on their way from Jamnagar to Bangalore after some trials. One of them was Rusty and another CK.
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