IAF’s older surviving fighter pilot, Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia, dies at 103 : The Tribune India

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IAF’s older surviving fighter pilot, Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia, dies at 103

He joined the erstwhile Royal Indian Air Force in November 1939 during the Second World War

IAF’s older surviving fighter pilot, Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia, dies at 103

Indian Air Force felicitating Sqn Ldr Majithia on his 102th birthday. File photo



Tribune News Service

Vijay Mohan

Chandigarh, April 16

The Indian Air Force’s (IAF) oldest surviving fighter pilot, Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia, flew into eternity at the age of 103 on Monday night at Rudrapur in Uttarakhand, where he had a farm.

Born in 1920 at Simla (now Shimla), Sqn Ldr Majithia joined the erstwhile Royal Indian Air Force in November 1939 during the Second World War, during which he flew combat missions over Burma. He logged over 1,100 sorties on 13 different types of aircraft types.

One of his most important achievements as a flier was the successful landing on an unprepared airstrip in Kathmandu in April 1949, after his uncle Surjit Singh Majithia, the first Indian ambassador to Nepal, responded to that country’s request for establishing an air route.

After a rigorous selection process, he underwent basic flying training at Karachi Flying Club on Gypsy Moth aircraft. In August 1940, Majithia joined the 4th Pilot Course at the Initial Training School in Walton, Lahore, where he was awarded the best pilot trophy. He then proceeded to No.1 Flying Training School in Ambala for advanced training for six months, finally earning his wings in May 1941.

Majithia served the newly established IAF Volunteer Reserve and was assigned to No.1 Coastal Defence Flight at St. Thomas Mount in Madras. Over the next 15 months he flew Wapiti, Hart, Audax and Atlanta on coastal security missions including searching and bombing submarines and undertaking aerial patrols over the sea.

After the coastal defence flights were disbanded in 1942, he moved to the 151 Operational Training Unit at Risalpur for training on the Harvard and Hurricane aircraft. The following year he was posted to No.6 Squadron under the command of ‘Baba’ Mehar Singh, a legendary figure in the IAF.

In January 1944, he was appointed as the Flight Commander of No.3 Squadron which gave him the opportunity to fly alongside Field Marshal Sam Manekshaw, then a Major, as well as Asghar Khan, who later became the Chief of the Pakistan Air Force, according to historical excerpts.

His next posting was as the Flight Commander of No.4 Squadron at Arakan, where he took part in bombing and strafing missions in the Burma theatre. Later, on recovering from illness, Majithia was posted at Air Headquarters in charge of operations.

Within two months, he was deputed on a mission to Australia that involved flying onboard a C-54 Skymaster to Perth via Colombo and Coco Islands. He served as IAF’s Liaison to Joint Chief of Staff in Australia. It was during his tenure in Australia that Majithia met Joan Sanders, a member of the Women’s Royal Australian Naval Service and the two got married in 1948.

Upon his return from Australia, Majithia retired from IAF in March 1947 and settled in Sardarnagar near Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh. The couple had two daughters.

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#Indian Air Force #Shimla #Uttarakhand


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