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The Indian Air Force (IAF) has a rich history of legendary pilots and heroes who have distinguished served their country. Indian Air Force (IAF) is recognized as one of the world’s most capable and advanced air forces. It has a long history of valiant service to the nation, and its pilots and personnel have earned a reputation for their professionalism, bravery, and expertise.
The IAF has a wide range of aircraft, including fighter jets, transport planes, and helicopters, equipped with advanced technologies and weapons systems. The IAF has also been involved in several humanitarian missions, such as providing aid during natural disasters and rescuing distressed civilians.
One such Indian Air Force legend who has given his life to the country is Air Commodore Mehar Singh. And today, we will share some hidden facts and stories of Mehar Singh.
IAF Legend- Air Commodore Mehar Singh
Baba Mehar Singh was the Air Commanding Officer of the RIAF during the Jammu & Kashmir operation (1947-1948).
After qualifying from Cranwell as a Service Pilot, Mehar Singh was assigned posting to No. 1 IAF Squadron in April 1935. Soon after his posting, his superior started recognizing him as “outstanding.” Whether it was the hazardous operations carried out by Mehar Singh in the Northwest Frontier, or the evacuation of stranded women and kids in 1942 in Burma and Habbaniyah, he earned admiration for all his exceptional performances.
During the early days of Jammu & Kashmir operations, he showed an extraordinary performance over the Himalayas across the dangerous and unchartered mountainous routes. And the fact that he will always be the first to land at the hurriedly constructed airstrip in the small town of Poonch and further establish the drawn airlift operations. Therefore, the town was saved from the enemy by evacuating around 30,000 refugees to safety.
The Leh-Ladakh Incident
The entire district of Ladakh was in a very severe condition and was about to get cut off and overruled by a Pakistani troop. A force from Skardu Valley along Shyok Valley, the Indian army decided to fly the troops by air at an altitude of 11,540 feet via an uncharted route. It involved high mountain peaks and ranged from 15000 feet to 24000 feet. Mehar Singh was the one who took the mission on himself and flew the first Dakota to Leh and landed the plane at the airstrip in the world.
The confidence and faith in Mehar Singh were phenomenal and appreciated to date.
In September 1948, Mehar Singh was placed on the retired officer list with his own will. Later on, he decided to carry on the profession of civilian flying. He again proved his extraordinary performance in 1950 when receiving the Maha Vir Chakra award.
While receiving the award, he said, “Throughout his tenure as overall Commander of air operations in Jammu and Kashmir, Air Commodore Mehar Singh showed great devotion to duty at great personal risk and set an example to those serving under him.“
Mehar Singh earned a DFC during World War II and was the Chief of the Indian Air Staff from 1960 to 1964. He was also posted to Awan’s flight in No 1 Squadron on May 1936.