By Air Cmde Gurdip Bal
Pre 1965 period a pilot posted to Gnats was considered a dead man. So two pilots were posted from flaming arrows to gnats (15 sqn). Farewell was worded “hope to see you again ”
However we did not loose heart and proceeded to sqn on posting. After all the formalities we both were cleared for solo by hooka upkar singh. Shyam Hattangadi and self were to do our first solo on Gnat E-229 (premod a/c for jet pipe). This blooming a/c had a pronounced swing on t/o. Both of us got airborne almost on kutcha, thanks to good thrust and clean configurations. We both were reluctant to report this fact to the flt cdr with the fear that we may be sent for another dual check that is a visit to KKD from Bareilly.
Pat Singh being a senior Flt LT in the sqn took up the clean a/c for aerobatics. He faced the same problem and abandoned the take off. When he asked us about the bent thrust, we meekly told him the truth. A/c was grounded and a test pilot from Kanpur flt visited the base for investigation. Air Mshl P Singh recommended the jet pipe change and the later modification of the jet pipe is a history. I am proud to say that i stuck to Gnats for longest period of its hey days, ie 11 years out of 18 years of my active flying service. I could still jump into a Gnat cockpit and proudly get airborne. That is the confidence we had in Gnats despite teething problems.