Pushpindar ‘Pushy’ Singh Chopra. The name brings to mind a range of reference books scripting the aviation history of the subcontinent, capturing generations of aircraft flown, recording treasured history for posterity. It would not be an understatement to say that the work of Pushpindar Singh has been regularly used as official reference material by officers and airmen of all generations, looking to learn about the IAF’s past and its journey.
A renowned aviation historian, Pushpindar Singh’s association with the IAF dates back to the period soon after the Indo-Pak war of 1965, when he interviewed aviators and IAF personnel in an effort to record the air operations as they happened, and also to refute enemy propaganda. His write-ups and records of the air battles of 1965 are a valuable source of information for various authors who have written about the war. One recalls his article, ‘Laying the Sargodha ghost to rest’, in Vayu Aerospace Review in November 1985 as being a trailblazer amongst others, which led to debunking the myth of PAF’s claim of shooting down five IAF Hunters on September 7, 1965.
In the numerous books he wrote on the IAF, starting from Aircraft of the Indian Air Force: 1933-1973, and the coffee table books of squadrons, one finds diligent professional research on facts, anecdotes, pictures from archives, summing up history in a nutshell, which is something every official historian would aspire to deliver. To converse with him was akin to engaging with a human encyclopaedia of Indian aviation. It was perhaps for this reason that one mistook him for an Air Force veteran at many of the demi-official and social gatherings of the IAF that he was invited to.
To his distinction, he published books on the occasions of IAF’s Golden Jubilee, Diamond Jubilee and Platinum Jubilee. The definitive three-volume magnum opus titled Himalayan Eagles: History of the Indian Air Force, written for the Platinum Jubilee in 2007, occupies pride of place in every Air Force library and squadron crew room.
His pioneering work, Vayu Aerospace Review, was one-of-its-kind aerospace journals when launched in 1974 and it continues to dominate readership amongst air warriors of today.
The contribution of Pushpindar Singh towards recording the history and air wars of the IAF cannot be contained in a single article. He belonged to a rare category of passionate aviation enthusiasts, who of their own reckoning decided to become a part of the men and women in blue. We shall fondly remember him and treasure his works for future generations.
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