Age no bar for this sprightly 81-yr-old pilot
|Source: The Hitavada Date: 03 Mar 2017 09:19:52|
By Anjali Ojha,
“THERE are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old-bold pilots.” Try telling this to 81-year-old Air Vice Marshal Ajit Lamba (retd) and he’ll laugh in your face. Such is his undying spirit.
“At the moment I am not flying very regularly because of non-availability of aircraft. I have been flying off and on any time I can get hold of an aircraft,” Lamba told IANS on the sidelines of the just-concluded Aero India defence exposition, where he made quite a splash when, dressed in blue overalls, he flew an indigenous Hansa single-engined trainer aircraft, swankily painted in grey and blue. Having flown in some seven to eight editions of Aero India, Lamba had to keep away from last couple of editions as the Hansa was grounded -- and almost didn’t make it this time around too.
“A week before the show, somebody called me up and said I could fly the Hansa during Aero India. I was only too happy to grab the opportunity. It came as a pleasant surprise,” Lamba said.
“Now, at my age, I can only fly these small airplanes, I have been doing that whenever there has been an opportunity. My principle has been, I don’t want to pay for flying to flying clubs. I don’t mind not getting paid,” he said with a wicked smile.
He has not been flying very frequently of late because of non-availability of aircraft, but he once owned his own flying machine -- a Pegasus microlight gifted to him by his wife on his 70th birthday. However, he had to sell it off because of lack of parking space.
“I used to fly it regularly. I kept it at the HAL airport in one of the defence hangers. But unfortunately it was getting filled up with their own equipment and one day I was told to vacate. I had to dispose it off because there was no other place in Bangalore. I had to sell it to a colleague of mine,” Lamba rued. Apart from the Aero India, he has also flown Hansa at the Australia International Airshow in Melbourne. “Once I took the same Hansa aircraft to Australia to the Melbourne airshow. They were keen to display the aircraft in Australia,” he said. An inspiration for many, he does get a lot of compliments. But the humble pilot said he felt “embarrassed” most of the time.
“All kinds of people have come and congratulated me. It has been a very humbling experience... As a matter of fact it is quite embarrassing. A large number of people were complimenting, it is a very small thing totally blown out of proportion with the kind of publicity it created, so it became very embarrassing for me,” he said. About his future plans, he said he would fly as long as he could.