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Ferry Kalaikunda – Sulur : Gnats land up in Kasturchand Park , Nagpur .

By Gp Capt PM Velankar

After the 1971 war the squadrons were recovering and as Squadron Adjutant I was busy in returning the “mobile furniture , the tentage and sorting out “DWO Inventory “. The EO and Flight Commanders were also busy sorting out their inventories . One major item being establishment and the strength of the aircraft on the inventory . Due to the war , aircraft were given permissible extension to enable the squadrons to keep flying them . Lot of aircraft were were given extension beyond the airframe life and so were over due for major overhaul . Early months of the year 1972 saw lot of Gnats being ferried to 5 BRD Sulur for major overhaul . In this the EO had an unenviable job . Which aircraft had to be ferried for major overhaul was no problem as it was straight forward and simple matter .What was not simple was the decision as to which major and minor components fitted on the aircraft were left with lot of ” life ” and would be needed in the squadron to maintain good serviceability as the spares were not easily forthcoming . Once that was decided the EO had to “cannibalise” these with those components which were left with just sufficient ” life ” to ferry from Kalaikunda to Sulur with a landing in Nagpur . Examples which come readily to mind are , Engine which was left with just 2 to 3 hours of life , Stand by R/T set which could not be repaired , Tail chute which could be deployed may be only once , main wheel tyres may be good enough only to do 2/3 landings etc . This was always done in consultation with the Flight Commander and decision was taken keeping in mind the seniority and experience of the ferry pilot who was thoroughly briefed about what was being done ! So in this way two aircraft had been made ready for the ferry . I do not know how things are in the Squadrons now a days , but these were considered totally acceptable practices and If today’s pilots & engineers consider that we were taking chances with flight safety , I would say that those were calculated risks . Life and Air Force in those days were different . You see those days Gnats still ruled the skies !!!
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