Bhubaneswar, Oct 8 (LocalWire): The Indian Air Force celebrates its 88th birthday today, as customary, with a strengthened resolve to safeguard the nation’s sovereignty.
Officially established on 8th October 1932, as an auxilliary air force of the then ruling British Empire, the IAF now ranks 4th amongst the air forces of the world in terms of personnel and aircraft assets.
Since 1950, the IAF has been involved in four wars with neighbouring Pakistan and one with the People’s Republic of China, apart from taking part in major operations and United Nations peacekeeping missions.
On the occasion of the IAF entering its 89th year, let us have a look at some famous Odia pilots from the IAF.
1) Biju Patnaik: There cannot exist a list of famous Odia pilots which does not have erstwhile two-time Chief Minister of Odisha Biju Patnaik in it.
Patnaik joined the Royal Indian Air Force at the beginning of the Second World War. He was jailed by the British for dropping political leaflets to Indian soldiers fighting under British command in Burma.
At the request of Nehru, he rescued Indonesian leaders who were then fighting for freedom from the Dutch, Sjahrir and others. For this act of bravery, he was awarded the “Bhoomi Putra” award in Indonesia, honorary citizenship of Indonesia, and their highest national award “Bintang Jasa Utama”.
Patnaik played an extremely important role in saving Kashmir, as he was the first pilot to land soldiers safely in Srinagar airport.
Unaware if the airport had been captured by the raiders, he flew low over the airstrip twice to ensure that the airport was not in enemy hands. This allowed the Indian Army to be brought in through the airport, who later secured the land from the raiders.
2) Nikhil Rath: Wing Commander Nikhil Rath from Bolangir has been chosen by ISRO as one of three astronauts selected for the country’s first manned mission to space “Gaganyaan” (currently scheduled for December 2021).
Having joined the IAF in 2004, Rath is currently a Wing Commander at the Chandigarh airbase and will be the first Odia to be a part of the space mission.
3) Sushree Sai Pranita Mohanty: Flying Officer Sushree Sai Pranita Mohanty recently became the first woman from Kandhamal district to become a flying officer in the IAF.
26-year-old Sai Pranita hails from Phulbani in Kandhamal. While pursuing her Ph.D. from Indira Gandhi Centre for Atomic Research, she joined a private publishing company.
She cracked the SSC examination on her third attempt and joined the Air Force Academy, Hyderabad for training.
She has currently joined the Air Force station in Madhya Pradesh as Flying Officer in the Meteorological branch.