Yes, it has always fascinated me to see those airplanes flying high above in the open sky. As a young boy I used to make quick visits to the terrace of my house to catch the glimpse of those airplanes which flew right above my house for few minutes. I have always been anxious to reach them, and always felt a strange attraction towards them.
On this bright sunny day, my urge to catch a glimpse of it is forcing me to fight the bright sun above. It’s shining like a diamond up there; I wonder how such a big bird (aircraft) manages to fly in the sky without falling down to the earth. Airplanes has always invaded my work, and pulled my attention towards them, till they vanish somewhere into the skies. Watching airplanes fly was more thrilling to me than doing any other task which kids of my age would do.
This mystery of the sky fascinated me and made me wondered, is it human in there or some superman flying it.
Our house being situated very close to airport, my radio used to catch all the VHF communication between the airplanes and the controller and I use to record on my small tape RT conversations and use to hear it repeatedly.
As a kid, I had thrown things towards aircraft to establish some sort of connection with the aircraft and use feel happy about it.
The sound of propeller was just amazing..!!
Even if I was sitting inside my house, hearing that sound of propeller use to trigger some sort of excitement in me.
With my father being a flight instructor, I did couple of joyride with him. Frankly I was tossed by all the amount of work and the dizziness. It seemed too much, I felt disoriented and always considered it as a Himalayan task. During those days my father was not earning much and we could hardly manage our studies. Salary of a flight instructor was quite low, in addition being a government job, we just managed.
I was preparing for IIT exam like most of the students that time, in 1999.
Suddenly life came to a sharp turn, with the death of my father in an air crash in March, 1999!
He was the only earning member. Things get pretty ugly when one comes face to face with such realities.
It was difficult; there came the responsibility of my family on my shoulders. In spite of hard work, I was not selected in IIT exam!
I was disappointed but did not loose hope. I knew I had to stand on my feet and rise higher.
I tried again with full efforts, got a seat in T S Chanakya, Merchant Navy College in Mumbai. Followed by a secured job.
Probably because of my dad’s blessing gradually things got better. Financially we came out well, and things started setting back on track.
When I cleared out good in Chief Officer Exam in 2006, my cousin brother Capt. Chetan, who was first officer with Jet Airways then, said to me “Hari, why don’t you give a try in aviation”.
The hidden desire was somewhere shaken, and made me give a second thought. An inner conflict started in my self.
I said to myself-“Hey, I hold a good and reputed job; this idea carries no sense now”. But deep inside the child within was still chasing that fly high thing, and I was aware of that.
Then started a cold war between dreams and reality.
Reality, which was security, responsibility, handsome salary and fame.
On the flip side, Dreams, which had risk, adventure, hidden passion and joy. Had to choose one.
I sat down on rug having that earthy feel and then went my mind on a dreamy voyage. I heard two voices from the two far end corners. “Hari, the ship’s ready, ______________________________
Without giving the ‘third thought’ I responded two the second voice.
Without even the knowledge of basic expenditure I made up my mind.
This time I will go for dreams!
My dad had helped my cousin converting his U.S license when he came back after his training in 1996.Moreover he was very much attached to me and my dad; I asked him all the details and procedures required, and begin with the search for flying school. Rightly said-“When the student is ready, the teacher appears”.
On my visit to Surinder sir’s ground classes in Delhi, I met Prashanth who came there with an offer of his flying school to students. I checked few others but this one suited my budget and time frame.
My financial resources were limited. Rs 15 lac was a big amount, I started arranging for money, most of my saving from merchant navy was locked in PPF, which cannot be broken till some time frame, only thing that we had was sum of Rs.4.5 lacs as fixed deposit. Due to some good will with the bank, we could get Rs. 7.5 lacs from the bank on that FD, remaining I tried here and there, but no avail. It was really tough for me; finally I dared to knock my relative doors and to my surprise, some of them helped a lot, I was deeply touched by their support and faith in my abilities. I swear to myself to go beyond my limits and return them with my own earning.
Finally I came to U.S, with not even $ 500 with me! All Rs.7.5 lacs had gone to school for deposit. I reached my flying school in Texas, where I was provided with accommodation in Camden Oasis. Here I met Deepak, my roommate. Initially all my money was paid by him, which I returned him later. He proved out very helpful, otherwise it would have been very problematic.
Flying started well and it was all looking good, till I started feeling air sick. My flight instructor warned me that if I am not able to control this, I might have to head back! He also suggested me an anti-nausea wrist band, which I brought at $ 100,It worked out for me and I finished my PPL well in time.
The hour building was great. By now I became passionate towards flying, It became vital part of my life, I went on flights whenever got chance. Popularly was famous as Flying saucer there.
But nearing completion, there came another obstacle; there was no multi engine training instructor present. Eventually who had come before me, their training started and I was stopped.
I was under immense pressure as I had only one chance to reach back and finish my papers or else flying hours would start expiring.
In the mean time, money was a big problem. Though I did not say it to my mom, but she arranged to send me some money by putting whatever jewellery she had. After quite prolong waiting, I made it, got my CPL. that was the happiest day of my life. Getting done with all my documents and license sign I headed back to India. After coming I directly went to join ground classes in Delhi, for my DGCA exams. As my mother could not spare much money now, I vowed to my sir in Delhi to pay as soon as I start earning. Seeing my determination and energy, he took me in, in his batch. I went ahead full stream.
I gave my DGCA exams .The wait for result was too long; I use to get nightmares what if I fail.
Again by god’s grace I was able to clear my medical and DGCA papers on first go. Now getting the license converted in India was very crazy.
I should count myself lucky as I got a call from jet, 20 days after getting my license. Week after when I clear my test, it was awesome feeling. Then came another hiccup, they found some high bilirubin in my blood, which is called GILBERT’S SYNDROME. It was a stressful week.
But finally it too came out well and my strenuous endorsement training started. By March 2008, we finished our DGCA exams; again we waited for six months for our sim slot. We use to sit in sim six hours alone.
During those days in Delhi, I met my would be wife, she has been immensely lucky for me. Everything has been falling in slot, all has been working out well now. Today after landing my ATR aircraft and during way back to home sitting in my transport, I try to recollect series of events and things which took place in my life to fulfill my dreams- the success does indeed look beautiful but the road which led to my success was such a very long road always reminds me of the troubles I had to face but with ease because I believe that my father’s blessings were always there with me when ever I had to face huddles in my life.