Tarmak007 -- A bold blog on Indian defence: Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora: A stellar fighter pilot & great human being set to embark on a new flightpath

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora: A stellar fighter pilot & great human being set to embark on a new flightpath

Vice Chief of Indian Air Force Air Marshal P.K. Barbora takes charge as the Command of Scorpios in 1987. He retires on December 31, 2010, after serving the nation for 40 years. Photo: IAF
All good men, too, will have to hang up their boots, one day. Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora, the 26th Vice Chief of Indian Air Force (IAF), will exactly do that on December 31, 2010, after serving the nation for nearly four decades.
Air Marshal Barbora Sir, as I would also call him, was just not a good officer. He was a great soul too. He was great because he valued the worth of every human being around him. Seldom, he exhibited the power of his position. He was simple. His thoughts were straight like an arrow. His close aides remember him as a fighter pilot with a lion's heart.
"He had the temperament of a fighter pilot. He is loved all through the ranks and file of IAF. He was very sensitive towards the problems of his men and those reporting to him," says an aide.
He was also sensitive to the issues of journos like me, who begin the chase for a quote or a confirmation, the moment a newsbreak happens. I still remember him laughing to heart’s content, when I told him: “Sir, I need some info. You know, it’s my pet ka savaal.”
He spoke with authority and respected the media. He knew our needs. He ensured that everything that he said was short and to the point. “He connected with all of us, which is a rarity in IAF. His was an effortless and unpretending style of functioning. He had the great ability to win hearts and he is a great inspiring soul,” says another IAF fighter pilot.
Probably he came across as a very strong and fearless officer, who always told YES, when asked: “Sir can I quote you?”
To ensure that his office emailed me an old photo of his, for my collection on request, Air Marshal Barbora Sir rang me up and asked: “Hope you got it. It’s very special to me as the photo was taken when I took over as the Command of Scorpios in 1987. Thanks Ananth. Stay in touch.”
The IAF is sure to miss the presence of this ‘smart boy’ from its serving ranks. Tarmak007 wishes Air Marshal Barbora Sir good health and happiness.
We will miss you!
A fighter pilot’s CV: Air Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora, PVSM VM ADC, took over as the 26th Vice Chief of the Air Staff at Air Headquarters on 01 Jun 09. The Air Marshal was commissioned as a fighter pilot in June 1970.  He has flown over 3,500 hours.  He has taken part in the 1971 war of Liberation of Bangladesh. He is a Qualified Flying Instructor and a Fighter Combat Leader.
During his service career, he has held many challenging operational appointments such as Commanding Officer of a MiG-21 Squadron, Air Combat Simulator Unit and Chief Operations Officer of a Fighter Wing. He was posted as Directing Staff at Tactics and Air Combat Development Establishment.  He was selected for prestigious appointments such as Air Officer Commanding of a premier Fighter Base, Air Attaché at the Embassy of India, Moscow, Assistant Chief of Integrated Defence Staff (Perspective Plans and Force Structure) and Assistant Chief of Air Staff (Inspection). He became the first officer from the North East to be promoted to the rank of Air Marshal.  After being elevated to the rank of Air Marshal, he was appointed as Senior Air Staff Officer and subsequently went on to assume the command of Eastern Air Command.  He was the Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, Western Air Command prior to assuming his present appointment.  He is recipient of Param Vishist Seva Medal and Vayu Sena Medal for his distinguished service.  He had been appointed as Honorary Aid De Camp to the President of India. 
The Air Marshal has many achievements to his credit, which is a testimony to his quest to explore. Formation of the first Jaguar Squadron, induction and operationalisation of the Air Combat Simulator into the IAF, the first of its kind in Asia, commencement of Night Operations by helicopters and transport aircraft in the treacherous terrain of Arunachal Pradesh and restarting of air maintenance with fixed wing aircraft after 43 years at DBO in the northern sector, the highest airfield in the world are few to mention. He is married and has two children.  His hobbies include music, reading and golf. 
Air Marshal NAK Browne will take over as the next Vice Chief of IAF on January 1, 2011. 

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