New Delhi, Hasimara:
Flying solo for the first time for any young aviator is always one of the most memorable moments. At the 101 Squadron – ‘The Falcons’, every achievement and happiness of fellow members are shared by everyone like one big family.
NDTV’s special documentary – ‘Rafale: India’s Cutting Edge’, presents one such moment where the youngest pilot in ‘The Falcons’, who is now cleared to fly solo, is congratulated with a unique tradition at the squadron. Traditions are central to the armed forces’ history and are followed with great pride.
Indian Air Force’s 101 Squadron is located at the strategically important Hasimara Air Base in West Bengal and is equipped with the twin-engine multi-role Dassault Rafale. The 4.5th generation fighter is the newest edition to the Air Force’s fighter fleet.
Flying Officer Kunal Chaudhary – call sign ‘KC’, the youngest pilot in the squadron is cleared to fly solo the mighty Rafale. Before getting the prestigious solo badge from 101 Squadron’s Commanding Officer (CO), the flying officer sits down, and officers pour two buckets full of water on the young aviator – A unique tradition to welcome their new warfighter.
A Flight Lieutenant then asks Flying Officer Chaudhary, “How’s the Josh”, to which he replies, “High, sir”.
Group Captain Abhishek Tiwari, call sign “Trips”, the commanding officer of ‘The Falcons’, pins the solo badge on the pilot’s jumpsuit and congratulates him for his remarkable achievement as an aviator.
The 17 Squadron – ‘The Golden Arrows’ at Ambala in Haryana and ‘The Falcons’ at Hasimara Air Base are the two squadrons of the Indian Air Force equipped with the Dassault Rafale.
Hasimara is a front-line air base that is tasked to counter any Chinese threat and to defend the strategically important Chicken’s Neck corridor, a narrow passage that connects the northeast with the rest of India by road.
‘The Falcons’ have participated in several international exercises and are operationally ready to take on any challenge.
“Through The Falcons’ gate pass the youngest, oldest and boldest fighter pilots in the world” can be seen written at the entrance.