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AN INTERESTING FLIGHT IN A GNAT

Air Marshal Philip Rajkumar (Retd)

I joined the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1962 and flew de Havilland Vampires, French Ouragans, Mystere IV A’s and Russian Mig-21’s for the first nine years accumulating 1600 hours in my log book. In 1972 I graduated as a test pilot from the French Test Pilots School (Ecole du Personnel Navigant d’Essais et de Reception or EPNER) at Istres, France and was posted to the IAF’s Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE) which is their flight test centre at Bangalore. ASTE was located at Bangalore airfield because India’s only aircraft company Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) owned the airfield and had its design bureau there. In 1975 I was assigned to be the project pilot for a flight trial in a Gnat fighter to prove some electronic warfare equipment developed in India. The trial was to take place at a base near New Delhi in north India and I had to ferry the aircraft there.
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