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Soaring ambitions

education Updated: Sep 22, 2011 11:01 IST

The lowdown
An IAF fighter pilot is trained in air-to-air combat and precision attacks. His job entails accomplishing the mission, which may mean attacking deep in the enemy heartland or shooting down enemy’s planes. Transport and helicopter pilots perform outstanding feats both during war and peace. Application Forms for training courses starting July 2012 are out. Last date of application is July 11, 2011. Check out the IAF website: for more details and eligibility criteria

Clock Work
5am: Wake up
6am: Report to base
6.05am: Mission briefing
7.15am: Breakfast
7.45am: Check Meteorological forecasts and current weather with the ATC (Air Traffic Control)
8.30am: Check the aircraft and prepare for the mission
9.30am: Airborne — in this case, for a mock combat mission, organised as part of an IAF exercise
12-1pm: May be another sortie, flying regular training exercises
2pm: Post landing checks and other formalities
3pm: Lunch and nap
3pm: Squash and swimming
7.30pm: In the mess, with buddies

The payoff
The pay ranges between Rs46,102 a month. There are five rungs in between, and there is a big jump in pay of about Rs21,000 from Squadron Leader to Wing Commander. These are the gross monthly emoluments, including allowances. Over and above this, pilots earn Flying Pay of Rs11,250 to Rs17,500 a month, depending on their rank. They are also entitled to accommodation on Base, Canteen, Education and Post-retirement benefits, Insurance cover, Medical facilities and Loans to buy a house, car and computer.

. Quick reflexes, ability to handle challenges and make split-second decisions under pressure
. The service hones an officer’s leadership qualities, as one handles a team that has to stay on top of the game at all times

Getting there
There are four entry routes to become an IAF pilot, three in Permanent Commission and one in Short Service Commission, all of which require one to have a Maths and Physics background in Class 12. NDA (National Defence Academy): After Class 12, Permanent Commission. CDS (through Combined Defence Services Exam): For Graduates, Permanent Commission. NCC Special Entry: Open only to First Class Graduates who possess Air Wing Senior Division ‘C’ certificate of NCC - Permanent Commission through Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) held twice a year in March and August. Short Service Commission (SSC) Entry: Open to First Class Graduates, SSC through Air Force Common Admission Test (AFCAT) held twice a year – in March and August. Women can seek Short Service Commission entry, in Transport and Helicopter streams for flying. The maximum age for applying is 23 years in all the above categories, except NDA, where the maximum age is 19 years.

Institutes and URLs
. Air Force Academy, Dundigal, Andhra Pradesh
. AFA, Bidar, Karnataka
. AFA, Hakimpet, Secunderabad
. Basic Flying Training School, Allahabad
. Transport Training Wing, Yelahanka, Bangalore

Pros and cons
. You live an exciting life and get to handle beautiful flying machines
. Even after joining the IAF as an officer, you will not get a chance to fly until you qualify in some key examinations

It’s aggressiveness, it’s attitude, it’s a new world — a world of imagination, courage, loyalty, and patriotism. Of brave men and women who are the true sentinels of the sky. It gives me an enviable lifestyle, respect, dignity, security, avenues for recreation and a lot more Sqn Ldr S Singh, Indian Air Force