Wednesday, July 1, 2015

SHOOTING IN THE FOOT - The smart ass me…

SHOOTING IN THE FOOT - The smart ass me…
Lessons to aviators

…a long time back in 1998.

I am sharing my experience as it happened, as to what is seems now a long long time back. I qualified myself as an ace pilot - the truth may have been whatever - but the fact was in the days when becoming a Pilot in Army Aviation was quite a feat there was a fair amount of rejection and on top of it to pass out all legs without bouncing - the ultimate to my mind.

Coming back to the story at hand. I was an Aviator who had just passed out and posted to an operational unit. Jhansi was the place it was. A fine flight commander, Lt Col H S Gill. Those initial days were a whirlwind of activity - what exactly I did is still hazy other than I had to do this syllabus and then that. The days passed and I was suddenly told that you can now go out - in layman’s words I was ready to be a co-pilot to operational flying. My spirits were sky high the day I came to know that I was to go as a co-pilot to my Flight Commander for flying the then Army Commander of Central Command. I got two days to prepare (compared to two hours I get now a days to do a Pilot sortie) - man give me a break - only two days ?? There was a preparation to do, lines to be drawn on the map to perfection. Those were the days of flying, GPS was a holy instrument used by Americans to conquer the world. To try and purchase a GPS (which I did of course) in India meant export permissions and taxes that were equivalent to a few months of my salary.

The days went by just too quickly, a God like instructor tore up my map twice for the lack of effort I had put in. There after came my ‘test’ where in he (the same instructor) called me at an unholy hour to check wether I could recite the distances, the landmarks, times to various check points with eyes closed. By the time all this finished I was absolutely confident that I was more qualified to take on the sortie than the Flight Commander himself. (I had and still have a problem of overconfidence). Then came the day I was launched…

It was like Good the Bad the Ugly. Ofcourse I was the Good. I would fire the directions to ‘so and so place’, give an RT call before my Pilot could even call Jack Robinson. My Pilot, the Flight Commander used to give a smirky smile and let it go. Oh Boy I was impressed by myself. The two day commitment meant that we drop the VIP on day one and return back to Jhansi via Lucknow on day two. Day one was rocking and I had expected the day two be nothing short. Unfortunately - that was the day I was to be ‘Taught my lesson’. The weather turned marginal and we took off from a location 150 Nm East of Lucknow heading for the Lucknow Airport. It was different in the sense that the monkey RT calls that I was used to giving were no longer expected of me. Most of the times I used to rehearse the call in my mind and then utter it. But as the sortie progressed and the weather turned a little worse than marginal my confidence was waning. My moving thumb on the map was getting unsure as to our location. (This was the equivalent of GPS in those days, Moving Thumb Display - that dragged along the map strapped to the thigh as we flew). Then came the call when the Lucknow ATC asked for our location and I was not sure of where I was. I looked towards my Captain - his face displayed no emotion, no unsurity that I thought was so evident on my face. He was ‘On the Controls’ occasionally glancing to my map strapped on my thigh and looking as calm as he started out as. Another few miles and the visibility further dropped. My Moving thumb display wavered more and in next few minutes I was sure that I was lost. The panic spread and I wanted a rush of Positive adrenaline to save me. It was then we got a call from ATC asking for our location again. In those few moments I peered outside the cockpit to see where we were. The Pilot peered at the map for a moment, deciding perhaps as to our location and his index finger gripped the PTT slightly, preparing to give the call - that was mine to give in first place. It was then that I saw what I was peering out to see. A strobing flash of blue - the beacon of the Airport. Before my Flight commander could decide and give the call - I pressed the PTT and replied - “Lucknow, Charlie 41, 5 miles and visual with the field” - Oh and I have to mention - that glow on my face - that glow of satisfaction would have been so bloody bright. I beat the poor flight commander hands down.

As I glowed in satisfaction - my Flight commander, the Pilot asked me in an even but authoritative voice - are you sure ?? Of course - I mean I was not so sure a few moments back but could not the old man see the flashing strobe in the distance ? Of course he could not - I mean his age was catching up - Ah !! With the confidence I wanted to project to my boss - I told him - sir see there - 12 ‘O’ clock - the airfield beacon. He replied in the voice that was as even and unwavering as before - “don’t jump to conclusions son - in aviation we do not say anything before we are sure. We could have waited a few minutes before confirming” - my bloody foot - I thought - and you could have taken the pleasure of giving my RT call. Over my dead grave…

5 miles ? Oh that would be what - two and a half minutes of flying. But as the time flew the light, my shining beacon was getting nowhere closer and I was into the panic situation once again, the same panic that I thought I had overcome. Weather deteriorated a few notches more and I was thinking - could the Flight Commander have been right ?? The ATC called once again - Charlie 41 - Location. And I did not reply. I mean the strobe light was still ahead but we seemed not getting any closer. The Pilot sensed my uneasiness and replied to the ATC - Lucknow Charlie 41 is calling long finals. Oh how I wished I could have disappeared from the cockpit. The shame was just unbearable.

I could do nothing and that was that. What really happened that I was not too wrong but surely disoriented. I saw light and my mind made me ‘Jump to the conclusion’. We were perhaps 10/12 miles from the airport - but that strobe of light was an ambulance that was going on the road below in the direction of Lucknow. No wonder we took time catching up with. In weather, haze and my unsurity I did two things that were not expected of me, firstly in my enthusiasm and my hyper ego I did not follow what I had been taught all along - do not trust instincts - the thumb on my map was moving and jumping points as per the time flown. It was always at the right place, only if I would have taken a bit more time to wait for another ‘time check point’ to come and confirm. Secondly I shot off the RT call without crosschecking with my pilot who was much more experienced than me. I would have made a much saner decision than this.

This brings me to the end of the story - but here are the lessons to be learnt by what I did so many years back.

1. Over confidence and under confidence are both killers in Aviation. Only way to avoid these are to prepare well for the sortie and open your mouth only when you have given yourself time to think over as to what you want to say.

2. There is no ‘Competition’ in the cockpit. The very reason both of you are sitting in the cockpit is because you are expected to work as a team. There is no winner if the aircraft is unsafe. You ‘reach’ or ‘do not reach’ the destination together.

3. Do not jump to conclusions. Cross check and cross reference the data and the situation at hand than letting the heart take the decisions.

4. Trust your training. It has seen millions before you through some very terrifying and unsure times of distress. Trust your instruments and do not be the ‘Seat of pants’ flyer.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Navigation Formula for DGCA examination.

I have tried to get together a list of formula commonly used for Navigation paper of DGCA. Take a look. There are some formula that I have skipped. I will include them as and one I am comfortable understanding what they are all about. If you have some formula that is relevant and can be included, please tinkle/mail me or leave a comment. I will try to in-corporate it.
Please do leave a comment if you like the list. Click the link below to download the formulas....

Click Here

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Join Indian Army Aviation - The Elite Club

The Indian Army aviation Corps was raised on 01 Nov 86 consequent to the apt realisation that the third dimension will be the deciding one whenever the clouds of an armed conflict loom over the subcontinent in the times to come. This is primarily because of the inherently mobile and flex-ible nature that this young arm and its capability to carry out operations over a large area in a short span of time de-spite the high level of battlefield transparency that exists by the virtue of the latest surveillance devices inducted by us as well as our adversaries. 
Surprisingly young as it may seem, but the trials for ac-ceptance of new concept of ‘Flying Observation Post’ were carried out and accepted in 1938-39, leading to the raising of ‘D’ Flight of RAF in 1940. 
Army Aviation has come a long way from its humble ori-gins and emerged as an arm to recon with by virtue of the diverse plethora of helicopters flown by extremely profes-sional aviators in the olive greens. Army Aviation has proved its mettle in all the operations as well as during humanitarian crisis faced by the nation besides playing an indispensible part of various peace keeping missions world over. 


Direct Commissioning from IMA/OTA 
Should be a volunteer for Army Aviation during training stage at the academy. 
 PABT and medical to be cleared. 
 Two years of attachment with fall back arm after getting commissioned. 

After Getting Commissioned into an Army Avn 
Minimum of 2 years service and not more than 29 years of age. 
 PABT and medical to be cleared. 
 For direct commissioning, two years of attachment with fall back arm after getting commissioned. 
 Inter Arm Service Transfer for permanent cadre of Army Aviation at 8-10 years of service. 

In Service 
Fly the latest helicopters and get an additional fly-ing allowance of upto Rs 17,500/-per month. 
 Quality life of a pilot. 
 An unparalleled job satisfaction. 

After Retirement: Excellent job prospects in avia-tion industry. 

Army Aviation follows Indian Air Force medical standards for induction as a pilot with the following exceptions. 
 Visual acuity 6/12 correctable to 6/6. 
 Post-Lasik permitted after six months of surgery if surgery done > 20 yrs age. 

 CV/FW 610 cm; Audiometric loss < 20 dB between 250-2000 Hz; 30 dB at 3000 Hz; 35 dB at 4000-800Hz. 

 Standing Ht – Min 162.5 cm; Sitting Ht – Min 81.5 cm; Leg Length – Min 99.0 cm 

Musculoskeletal System 
Cervical/Lumbar Spondylosis: Fitness based on clinical features, MR/CT scan neurosurgical opinion. 

Compression Fracture Spine : A single consolidated stable compression fracture in an asymptomatic candidate is not a cause for rejection. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Are you a manager?…. Read This!!

This article has been copied from a mail I received…

This hypothesis was enunciated by the Author’s brother, AVM Manjit Singh
The literal meaning of the Punjabi word, ‘phook’ is air  pressure. Metaphorically, it is used to describe an ego-state. Thus, if someone is hogging a lot of ‘phook’, he is ‘gassed’ or brash.

The year, 1988. Location : No 3 Base Repair Depot (BRD),IAF, Chandigarh
The little man who sat as the Air Officer Commanding (AOC) of the BRD was my brother. Our father found him bone lazy, incapable doing any strenuous work. But I suspect he was clever. The Air Force chose to overlook his sloth and let him rise. Now, having completed his course
at the National Defense College , it was clear that he was going places. I had gone to the BRD to learn the rudiments of command.
As I entered, the two officers who were sitting in the office took leave of him. He sat there, completely relaxed. There was no paper in the two trays marked “IN” and: OUT” The customary “Pending” bin was conspicuous by its absence. The walls of the large office were bare.
No bar charts, no performance curves. On the table, there was a small hand written paper, which my brother permitted me to see. It said,
“I hate work. Even if some one else does it”.
It was clear as crystal that my dear brother had not changed. I asked him how he managed such a large outfit. And he said, “Come, I will show you” And  we set off for a ‘darshan’ of the unit. Wherever we went, people rushed to greet him. He had a word or two to say to everyone. In most cases, he let his officers speak. He would then say just a sentence or two, and then move on. But I noticed that his tone was different each time. At one workstation, we saw a tall officer, who
had a lot of charts and diagrams, and he gave us a detailed account of his achievements. The curve showed that the output of his shop had tripled since he took over. He was keen to give a lecture to the other officers of the BRD on the management techniques he had employed to
achieve those results. My brother gave a cold look to him and said, “Yes. You can do that. But first you must improve the quality of your stuff. That gyro-stabilizer which failed in the flight test last month was overhauled here. Right?  If the pilot was not alert, you would have his blood on your hands!”

Jesus! That six foot tall engineer suddenly looked like a pygmy, and his rose colored cheeks turned yellow, drained of blood, in less than a second!
We next went to another shop. The officer in-charge greeted us. But while he was speaking, my brother’s eyes were elsewhere. He noticed that a junior officer had hidden himself behind a chopper. As soon as the briefing was over, he went that way, and called that man out. He
gave the meek man a light hug and asked about his ailing wife. The poor soul, who was obviously commissioned from the ranks mumbled something about the shortfall in his production, but the AOC was not interested in those details... The boss told him that he was one of the best officers in the unit and ended by saying, “I saw your son playing basket ball yesterday. I think he has a lot of potential” When we left, he clicked his heels and produced one of the smartest salutes I have ever seen.
All through the visit, I observed that my brother was less interested in technology and ‘output’ and more concerned about the officers and technicians he met. He knew an amazing number of names, and seemed to know all about their specific hopes and aspirations.
When we returned, I asked him what his job, as the Commander.  He thought for a while and then he shared his “Phook Theory” with me. It was like Socrates talking to Plato and I find it more appropriate to recount the dialog verbatim. He taught by asking questions, and I sat
like a little child answering as best as I could.
“When you are driving a vehicle, what happens if the tire pressure is low?”
“The acceleration drops, steering becomes hard and the fuel consumption goes up”
“Right. You must inflate the wheels. Now what happens  if the pressure is too high?”
“The ride becomes bumpy, steering wobbles and an odd tire may burst”
“Correct. You must immediately pull up to a service station and do the needful”

After a sip of the juice which had arrived, he said, “This unit is like a vehicle. I am on the driver’s seat. These officers are the ‘wheels’ of the vehicle. I have only two jobs, one to steer in the correct direction and two, to ensure that the ‘phook’ level of all my officers is correct, always and every time. So when I see some one down and out, I boost his spirit and if I find some one bumpy, I …” And to show what he did, he filled air in his cheeks and made a hissing sound, ‘Phusshh…’
Through my mind’s eye, I saw that meek officer hiding behind a chopper get a hug and a tall management ‘guru’ cut to size. Like a little child, I asked him, “But, pray, how do you find whom to pump and whom to deflate?”
“Ah, well! That is what management is all about!” There was another pause, but after that, he became serious. He gave me the most profound lesson of that morning, “That is not difficult. One learns it through experience. The tough part is to keep my own ‘phook’ at the right
level. I must not lose my equanimity, no matter what happens.  And that is not always easy”
Just when I thought the lesson was over, he asked, “what is more important, technology or people?”
I looked askance, and said, “You tell?”
His answer was unusual. He said, “Technology is for the middle level officers. At my level, it is my colleagues.”
His parting words to me were the most profound. He said, “Management is all about people. If you do not like people, do not manage. Engineering has many branches, mechanical, electronics,
chemical, aerospace and so on, but the one which is needed for my job is different. It is called, Human Engineering”
       Armed with the ‘phook theory’ I assumed command of the famous ‘Five-O-Nine’ Army Base Workshop in Agra , in 1989. And immediately, I discovered the problem associated with maintaining my own phook in check. The star plate on the car; the traffic coming to a halt to let
my car go; a reception at the Agra Club followed by a function organized at Hotel Clark Shiraz by a citizen’s forum to welcome me had a way of making me to believe that I had ‘arrived’. Some sycophants went on to say that no other commandant had been received that way;
and that my posting was an event to remember for the land of the Taj Mahal.  It needed a great deal of deliberate effort to keep my feet on the ground, The phook theory helped. I jotted it down and kept it on my table, as a guide. I also applied its tenets to my command, and believe you me, it worked!
Encouraged by the results, I shared this management philosophy with my friends The feedback which I received was positive, and so I began to believe that between me and my brother, we had discovered a new management ‘mantra’
And then one day, the sky burst and the earth began to rumble.. A very dear friend who had taken these dictums as gospel truth, rang up to say that the theory had failed completely.. He said he was in sh**.
My enquiries revealed that there was a near mutiny in his unit. I requested a colleague to tell me as many details as he could get and then I sent the case study to the author of the theory for  advice.
My dear brother took less than five minutes to respond. In a tersely worded note he wrote,
“Tell your friend to check his pressure gauge. He seems to be deflating people who have nothing left in their lungs and pumping those who were already on the verge of bursting!”
       \\ --- //
      (  @ @  )


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Brothers in Aviation....

I am posting a photograph of my brother and self. I would invite everyone who has a blood relation in army aviation to send photographs and I will post them at this blog. I know a few - rest Just send me snaps with names.