The Storied Career Of India’s Oldest Fighter Pilot Dalip Singh Majithia, Who Turns 100 Tomorrow

Dalip Singh Majithia retired as a Squadron Chief in the Indian Air Power in August 1947.

New Delhi:

On August 5, 1940, a youthful Sikh pilot took off on his to start with coaching flight in a Tiger Moth aircraft from the Walton airfield in Lahore with his two British instructors.

17 times later on, Dalip Singh Majithia, then just 20, flew his to start with solo flight, a flight that paved the way for a life time in aviation – very first in the Air Force and then as a personal pilot.

Along the way, Dalip Singh Majithia experienced his share of adventures as a fighter pilot flying the famous Hawker Hurricane on the Burma front throughout the Second Entire world War to getting to be the 1st particular person to land a plane in the Kathmandu Valley various decades later on.

Tomorrow, Dalip Singh Majithia, who retired as a Squadron Chief in the Indian Air Force in August 1947, the calendar year of our independence, turns 100.

He is India’s oldest living fighter pilot.

“I continue to feel that I am in it, when I fulfill [Indian Air Force] officers,” claims Squadron Leader Majithia. “My batch persons usually are not there any more, we applied to have our meetings on the very first of August just about every 12 months for some time.”

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On 23 April, 1949, Dalip Singh Majithia landed in Kathmandu, Nepal. This was the very first landing of an aircraft in the Kathmandu Valley.

Dalip Singh Majithia’s tale has been explained as “a story of faith, braveness and journey” by Pushpinder Singh Chopra, India’s foremost aerospace historian. By the time he graduated as a pilot, he was very good adequate to be adjudged the finest pilot of his program.

Dalip Singh Majithia went on to fly a number of plane with the Indian Air Force for the duration of the pre-independence period of time like the Westland Wapiti IIA, the Hawker Audax and Hart which geared up No. 1 Squadron, the IAF’s sole squadron at the time. 

Immediately after in the beginning becoming assigned to Coast Defence Flights where he flew maritime patrols around the Bay of Bengal, he was re-assigned to No.6 Squadron, Indian Air Force, which was shortlisted to function 1 of the most highly developed aircraft in the entire world at the time, the legendary Hawker Hurricane.

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“It was a charming plane. The Hurricane is extremely perfectly identified as it won the Fight of Britain and we had good respect for them as it experienced a good engine,” states Dalip Singh Majithia. “I used to really like this plane. It was pretty hard. They employed to say, ‘you can strike a tree’ and nevertheless occur back.”

The Hurricane was the first battle plane to go over and above 300 mph in amount flight and was really adaptable. Much more than 300 variants of the Hurricane had been provided to the IAF among 1942 and 1944. The fighter went on to develop into the backbone of functions in the Assam and Burma campaigns.

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Dalip Singh Majithia retired as a Squadron Leader in the Indian Air Force in August 1947, the 12 months of our independence.

Dalip Singh Majithia would go on to provide in East India and fly around the Burma entrance less than the command of the legendary Baba Meher Singh, who was honoured with a Distinguished Support Get in the course of the Next World War and went on to get a Maha Vir Chakra for his position in the 1947-48 war with Pakistan. 

“Each mission [on the Burma front] was incredibly tricky but we just had to come across the Japanese but their use of camouflage was very good.” Traveling missions in excess of some of the densest jungles on Earth was an unbelievable obstacle for the Squadron. “The jungle was incredibly thick and we experienced to identify the place they were. The Japanese army was relocating ahead in direction of India and we had to detect them.”

The Hurricanes of No.6 Squadron had been assigned to acquire vertical and indirect pics. They would fly in two aircraft formations. In just about every sortie, “the ‘Leader’ took photos and did the recce function and his No.2, the ‘Weaver’, shielded the leader’s tail” from enemy interceptors and floor fireplace. 

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With the surrender of the Japanese and the Next World War winding down, Dalip Singh Majithia was picked to be a part of the British Commonwealth Occupation Forces and moved to BCOF Headquarters in Melbourne, the place he satisfied Joan Sanders (whose father was with the British Indian Army). On 18 February, 1947, Dalip Singh Majithia married Joan at his spouse and children property in Gorakhpur the place the family experienced significant land holdings and business passions.

He was persuaded to go away the Indian Air Force but clearly, his really like for traveling never ever waned.

“Just in advance of the close of the war, the Us citizens marketed all their plane in India and my uncle bought these two L5 light aircraft.” But creating these aircraft flight-worthy was no quick job. “We had no mechanic,” suggests Dalip Singh Majithia. “I experienced an automobile mechanic looking just after the garage. My uncle and he were in cost and he utilized to come and test the magnetos of the plane.” Miraculously, the plane ended up fixed correctly. “I flew these two aircrafts all in excess of the place and luckily, I had a pilot’s license before, so I had no dilemma.”

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On 18 February, 1947, Dalip Singh Majithia married Joan Sanders at his family members household in Gorakhpur where the family had sizeable land holdings and company interests.

The household went on to obtain two Beechcraft Bonanza aircraft. These had been 4-seater plane, one particular of which went on to make aviation heritage with Dalip Singh Majithia at the controls.

On 23 April, 1949, Dalip Singh Majithia landed in Kathmandu, Nepal. This was the first landing of an plane in the Kathmandu Valley and adopted a request from the Key Minister, Mohan Shumsher Jang Bahadur Rana. In a letter to the Indian Ambassador, the Key Minister of Nepal questioned, “I have been pondering if it would be doable to make use of smaller transport planes to have paddy to Kathmandu Valley soon after the rains, recognizing that Dakotas require a landing floor which would be difficult to get completely ready.”

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“My uncle (Surjit Singh Majithia) was the Ambassador and he was incredibly keen for me to meet the PM.” The discussion moved to flights into Nepal with authorization being granted in fast time.

“I experienced a excellent look ahead of [landing] and didn’t have any support on the ground in any way,” claims Dalip Singh Majithia, describing his to start with solution into Kathmandu. “My uncle put a windsock for me. That is all I had.” Dalip Singh Majithia built two attempts to land. “The very first one was not so great for the reason that it was late April with a lot of clouds. But the next time, I circled all-around Kathmandu and made it.” This was an unprepared strip. “The good news is, there was nobody on the ground. My uncle came and picked me up.” These days, the spot in which Dalip Singh Majithia designed his initial landing is the site of the current Tribhuvan International Airport at Kathmandu.

Dalip Singh Majithia’s passion for aviation ongoing for quite a few many years. He manufactured his previous recorded flight on January 16, 1979, again in a Beechcraft Bonanza. More than a interval of time, the spouse and children came to receive several aircraft. Some of these however lively on air charter duties with Saraya Air Charters, some of the many others are now retired.

Requested what its like to rating a century in existence, the Squadron Chief states, “Well God is fantastic and I am very grateful for each and every help I have gotten from my family.”

Conditioning has been a essential component of Dalip Singh Majithia’s everyday living, Golfing a long lasting enthusiasm. “I am quite thankful to God for permitting me engage in a good deal of golf. I received a gap in one particular a range of occasions, and my very last hole in a single was very last 12 months in the golfing program in Nainital.”

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