Extract from book
As a Son of AirIndia Captain I was always surrounded by Airplanes, My Story seeks out the special few who have answered the call of the skies, proud to be counted among those with the discipline, aptitude, and courage to become Pilot.
Life in hangars and homes, at Airport restaurants and on ramps, My Story
tells the story of flight in the words of pilot. What it means to fly
An airplane all alone for the first time on 1st Solo. What it means to fly an airplane for the
last time. The easy rapport one can have with a person who is a complete
stranger but just by sharing experience of flying.
And the excitement that consumes pilots at the opportunity to share this world
of aviation with non-Pilots, Airport communities, community leaders, and anyone
else who will listen a born Pilot.
My Story is a saga for anyone who has sat all alone in an aircraft, firewalled
the throttle, charged down the runway, and rotated. And especially for those
Who might if given the chance. For most people, the sky is the limit. For a Pilot,
the sky is home and Airplane is Office.
This is the story of the journey home. A Pilot's Story.
I am a Pilot
When I was young, I never even imagined that someday I would simply be mad
about aircrafts and flying. On my third birthday my dad asked me “what kind of Birthday cake
you want” ? My answer was so oblivious an Airplane Shaped cake.
On my trip abroad, to Singapore, I bought the Observer's Book of
Aircraft by William Green, this changed my world completely. It had all the different
kinds of aircrafts one could see at that time with their full specifications. The book
increased my vocabulary, I got to know technical details of various aircrafts, their
type, seating, power plant, cruising speed, armament, country of origin, dimensions,
service ceiling, endurance, range, etc.
Soon I was nicknamed pilot by my friends, whenever they used to see any aircraft,
they used to enquire about it from me. I started to correctly recognize even the
aircrafts which were flying at very high altitudes. Even my ears got trained for the
slightest sound which resembled the drone of an aircraft engine. I could tell well in
advance that whether the approaching aircraft was a piston engine, a turboprop,
a jet or a chopper.
Just a single book changed my whole life, I became an aviation enthusiast. Soon I
started to buy all the good books related to aviation I could lay my hands on. By the
time I reached the age of 18 years, that is the time I finished my schooling, I had a
library, full of books on aircrafts and other related fields.
After passing my Schooling, the very next day my dad took me to the office
of the local flying club and enrolled me as a student Pilot.
Within 14 months of my joining or after exactly 15 Hrs of flying hrs on Pushpak MKI and
Cessna 150 Airplane, I was ready to go solo,
all alone, no one would accompany me, it would be just me and my Cessna 152 Airplane.
gliding, flying free, like a bird. I readied for the flight, checked the elevator, ailerons, rudder and
airbrakes, they were all working, checked the altimeter, variometer, slip-skid indicator,
pitot tube, speedometer, they all seemed well. Wow I am a Captain [ Commanding and Piloting
Aviator In Navigation ] now.
Now I could call myself a PILOT, a real AVIATOR ....MY 1st DREAM COME TRUE...
But actual problem started after my 1st solo. Now this is the time I realise why
every Indian Pilot hates DGCA and Indian Officials. Now I was getting my flights
once a week or twice a month, amplifying my frustration. After waiting for 17 months
I got my Indian Private Pilot Certificate. Then I decided to continue my training in USA.
Land in America
Capt Richard had tough time to get me back on right flying, because of my different style and methods I
had adopted while my training in India. Every day I was learning many new terms of flying. James Golfin
[ Jimmy ] was my flight Instructor. Jimmy was a very cool Pilot so I was bit relaxed to learn flying.
When I came back to India, we had no jobs available here, so again headed to my old flying club to
join as Assistent Pilot Instructor under the same CFI. It became very difficult for me to cope with
Indian Flying style as it seemed very old fashioned. Adjusting with Indian flying culture I
started teaching Pilots in Indo - US style. I was not at all happy with the culture but had
no option, my frustration was increasing with every passing day. But by seeing logbook getting hrs day
by day , I started preparation for ATPL and did cleared all my papers as well. Still I had
about 1200Hrs, only 300hrs more to get an ATPL license. Aviation is not so much a
profession or a hobby as it is a disease.
Air India released advertisement for Trainee Co-Pilot for Boeing 737 Aircraft. I applied and
left my API Job to prepare for my Air India exam. Air India declared result after 9 months and
by default I got no 1 position. Thanks to my wonderful US flying Experience and awful
Indian Assistent Flight Instructor's Experience. I always told my student Pilot, Learn from
the mistakes of others -- you won't live long enough to make all of them yourself. But they
were not much ready to listen me.
I met another Pilot Captain Sushmita [ Sush ] at DGCA office. I was stunned to see her exceptionally fair
and pretty face .Though she looked sad. I felt a strong desire to talk to her. After starting a conversation I
came to know that she has come for her Conversion from
Canadian CPL into Indian DGCA CPL.She was trying to get it since last 4 months but all in vain. I helped
her to get her license within 7 days with all formalities done. Of course
that cost us only couple of bucks before we could get CPL in hand, but that was the culture
Indian DGCA had. Sush was so happy with her license in hand, as she had lost all her hopes
before. She got very happy and excited and kissed me in DGCA office itself.
To celebrate this, I Invited Captain Sushmita [ Sush ] at Hotel Taj for Candle
light dinner, we both were so eager that both of us reached Taj almost an hour before our
schedule time. I proposed Captain Sushmita just after the dinner, which Sush
accepted immediately. This was most happening day for us and we both were in cloud nine.
Time flown very fast and it was time for Sush to get back to Canada, as her whole family lives
in Canada, even she was born and brought up in Canada. Her Dad had a small flight school
and a Air Charter Services at a Monatoba, north Canada, which was not doing well due
heavy recession in Aviation. Captain Sushmita, was a CFI there but she wanted to fly for an Airlines,
which was bit difficult in Canada due to recession, So she decided to get her Indian CPL.
AirIndia was suffering from heavy losses, So they cancelled further expansion plans and so no more
hiring for Trainee Co-Pilot for Boeing 737 Aircraft. I wanted 300 more flying
hours before I could apply for issue of Indian ATPL. So I decided to join one Indian company based out of
Guwahati to fly their King Air B 200. Though was paid peanuts.
I join to get flying hours. Was flying with Wg. Cdr. Aman Sing who was an ex Air force Pilot, No civil
Aviation or International Aviation Exposure, but had a solid defense attitude
problem like any other defense Pilot. As soon as I got my 1510 hrs on the Logbook I
left this job and reached again Indian DGCA with lot of documents and lot of bucks to be paid
as and when required. At any cost I wanted to get my ATPL issued asap. Met with Mr Rajan again who was the
same tout at DGCA who helped Captain Sushmita to get her Indian CPL.I paid him big amount then
usual bribe and Rajan promised me to get my work in next 7 days. These
7 days were like 7 years for me. The only relief I had was skype and black berry
calls of Captain Sushmita [ Sush ] as she was the only soul on the earth who could understand my
Monday sharp 1000 hrs I was at DGCA looking for Mr Rajan, but he was not there till
1030, I made a call to him on his mobile which was coming switched off and No reply at home landline,
so I reached DGCA reception, but my documents were not there. Receptionist was not ready to
listen to me. I paid him big bucks, to get him ready to hear me. After taking big bribe he
opened his mouth and inform me that no file is there in Indian DGCA office even. At 1300hrs Rajan
picked up his mobile phone and informed me that he is in Banglore due some important work and DGCA
has rejected his ATPL application as he needs minimum 1000hrs as
PIC to get his ATPL issued. And if he needs his papers back he would needs to pay high sum of money
to another DGCA agent Mr Kuldeep.I paid and got my original documents back. I thought At least I have
live Indian CPL in hand.
I felt very depressed and helpless with the situation, Captain Sushmita invited me at her flight school to
get Canadian ATPL. I immediately accepted the offer and made myself busy in doing all the preparation
to reach Canada.Once completed with formalities I flown to Monterial with my Dad Captain Ravi
who was in operation of same sector on Boeing 747.
In the flight to Canada I was undergoing mix emotions of fear and excitement. Yet, managed to keep my
mind focused and kept reminding myself that whatever is happening in my life is happening for good.
All my worries vanished as I saw Captain Sushmita holding a board with the title “Captain Champ” written
in it. Champ is what she calls me with love. I embraced her and realizing my father’s presence controlled
my emotions. We went straight to her house.
After food and taking rest, we headed to the flying club.
I liked the place the moment we entered the flying club.
The big hall was flooded with aircraft models. Charts, poster and moreover spacious hall.
When I saw the fleet of aircraft, I felt as if I got back to life.
I was overjoyed and was thrilled to revive my previous training days.
I was introduced with Bob, who will be my new flight instructor. Because of high spirit and enthusiasm
My training went really at good pace with my stunning performance. In few weeks I felt as if I have
become a new person with energy, focus and happiness. Flying became part of me. Moreover company of
Sushmita added further wings. I was totally in love with her. We started remaining together for
most of the time. I was free to express my affection for her.She took me to all the exotic places of the city.
Initially I was shy as to show my affection to her in public. But she being rather bold never missed a
chance to hug me, kiss me or rather dance in my arms in public. Her open affection made me also
comfortable and we use to cuddle each other quite often in public. She soon became a non detachable
part of me. It was not just her beauty, but her heart, understanding and love for aircraft which made me
crazy for her.Soon I got my ATPL issued in Canada. I was given offer of being flight instructor there , I
gave required exams and started working there. Even with less number of students we were doing
good. Later through an old friend of mine I heard about “Mission to Canada” campaign started by
Canadian government. They had an amazing vision of providing low cost, but high standard training.
Strictly following ATAC(Air Transport Association of Canada) , I was impressed by their plans, and made
an appointment and fixed our flying
club under them. It was through their wonderful planning that we could receive good number of students
from India. Our students were happy as well with the timely and quality training provided. Thanks to my
previous experience in India I was able to understand their urgency and mindset. Sush’s father Mr.Robin
was the owner of the flying club. He was very happy with the development that his club made. Reading
our mind and seeing us happy together he himself initiated and offered me proposal of wedding with
Sush.I was overjoyed.I gave the news to my parents and they were joyous as well.
Having a person who understands you so well as a life partner was a present by god.
My parents wanted us to get married in India with full traditional style. Though Sush had this wired fantasy
of getting married in air!! I came up with best planning. I said WILCO to both. Yes, we actually got married
Twice!Although I m so happy now when I look back and recall our experiences.
Firstly we were married in Indian style. All Sush’s relatives and friends joined us in India and we had a
Beautiful and rather vibrant marriage .Here in India wedding is a gigantic affair. All immense colourful
events and customs with Indian ethical wear did made us feel like King and Queen.We both thoroughly
enjoyed our wedding. Beside watching Sush and her realtives in Indian attire was a pleasure to eyes.
After lengthy list of rituals and ceremonies in India and abundant of food , love and blessing we left back
And yes this was the time to do the crazy thing.
Well we did not exactly got married in air, actually we decorated the entire hanger and the
ceremony was conducted there with our guest sitting right in front of us, our common favorite aircraft
PA-38 , Seneca was kept right behind us, beautifully decorated and yes we got married there , and Sush
Was in beautiful white gown beating any Hollywood actress.
But to keep Sush happy , our first kiss after marriage was kept for flight in Seneca, thanks to autopilot in
the instrument panel.
Today after four years we run Two flying clubs which are doing great comprising of our own hand picked
aircraft fleet and master trainers.I and Sush are always happy and bubbly and if anybody ask the Secret
we tell them that we are always surrounded with something we are both passionate about , we don’t work
but rather we FLY !
Remaining part please read in book coming soon
Capt. Shekhar Blog
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