Air Commodore (retd) T K Sen (78) with the resurrected Tiger Moth at Aero India. He is also seen interacting with its pilots. Photo: AK
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News Service
Bangalore: Amidst the sonic symphony of planes at Yelahanka Air Force Station, one man was seen moving around near the ‘yellow bird’ parked at a quiet corner. He cajoled each and every part of the aircraft, peeped into its cockpit and checked its tail. He held on to the strings which were hinged to wings. Giving him company was two pilots who flew the bird at air show. They explained to man the challenges of keeping the flying machine in good shape.
“You know, it was on this day (February 9) in 1952, I did my fist solo on Tiger a Moth. I was 17 years old. I wasn’t even eligible to hold a driving license, then,” says Air Commodore (retd.) T K Sen, is in his late 70s, now. “I might have flown for around 15 minutes. And, today when I stand next to this plane, I have some very sweet memories giving me company. I did not fly this aircraft, but a different Tiger Moth,” says Sen. He served the Indian Air Force (IAF) for 33 years, from 1953 to 1986.
At Aero India 2013, the IAF has displayed one resurrected Tiger Moth – 'de Havilland DH82 - a two-seater, single bay biplane, powered by a 145 hp Gypsy Major four-cylinder inverted air-cooled engine. It was the primary trainer aircraft for the Royal Air Force during the World War-II and was also the basic trainer in the IAF right from the 40s. “You know, with no electrical system on board, the Tiger Moths had to be started manually. Now, the IAF has fitted a radio for communication,” says Sen.
When asked how he communicated without any basic instruments during his flying days, Sen said: “We never communicated!” He said it was great for a pilot to catch-up with an old aircraft.
As we finished the photo-shoot of Sen and his men around, one could still see the spark in his eyes as he observed the details of a flying machine, he dated decades back. May be his mind and soul was pushing him for another solo in Yelahanka.
Once a pilot, always a pilot!