A vintage spectacle appeared in the Vadodara sky Tuesday morning as Tiger Moth, the first trainer aircraft of the Indian Air Force (IAF), made way to land at the city airport on its way to Bangalore where it will participate in the Aero India Show next month.
Restored three years ago by a company in the UK, the aircraft carries the “golden past” of the IAF having served as the primary trainer in the Royal Air Force in India during the second World War and then becoming the first basic trainer aircraft of the IAF in 1940. It was replaced by a more sophisticated HT-2 in 1952, IAF officials said.
“Being the first trainer aircraft of the IAF, the Tiger Moth assumes special significance in the IAF history. The vintage aircraft is maintained for its historical values. Tiger Moth is the first plane of the vintage category in the IAF that is flying-worthy,” said Tiger Moth pilot and group captain D S Dangi.
Before being included in the Royal Air Force and then in the IAF, Tiger Moth offered recreational rides to people at the Jodhpur Flying Club, where it was brought in 1932 from Karachi, a historical account of the aircraft shows.
One could take a round trip of Jodhpur on the aircraft for Rs 10 while joy rides were offered for Rs 5 per person.
“When we fly such aircraft, we remember how the forefathers of aviation would handle an aircraft and how they’d feel when flying,” Dangi said.
The aircraft runs on 100LL petrol, a pure form of aviation fuel. “It is made primarily of wood and fibre, and is very light, so much so that it wobbles and one feels cold in the cockpit when the plane is on higher altitude,” he said.
The aircraft has no electrical system and starts manually.
When landing, a pilot has to stick his head over the side to see the runway.
“When people will see this aircraft closely, they will get to see and understand life and work environment of the Air Force, and will be motivated to join the IAF. This is a demonstration of the IAF’s capability,” said Air Commodore R S Sodhi, air officer commanding of Air Force Station, Vadodara.