Flying Officer Gajulapalli Navin Kumar Reddy couldn’t have given a better Father’s Day gift to his dad. In what may be a rare scenario for a Telugu, Navin stood first in the overall merit in the pilots’ one-year course at the Indian Air Force (IAF) Academy at Dundigal, beating 152 cadets for the top spot. The 21-year-old was presented the President’s Plaque and Chief of the Air Staff Sword at the 203rd Combined Graduation Parade in a glittering ceremony held at the academy on Saturday.
Having come first in the overall merit for the pilots’ course at the Air Force Academy at Dundigal, Flying Officer Gajulapalli Navin Kumar Reddy was gifted the prestigious President’s Plaque.
“It was a proud and an emotional moment for me also because this is my childhood dream coming true. It means a lot to me also because I wanted to top my National Defence Academy (NDA) tenure but couldn’t. So this time, I was very determined to make it happen,” adds Navin, who will soon be headed to Bidar to fly the Hawk aircraft before joining the fleet. Born in Prakasam District, Navin has put up over 150 hours of aircraft training in his one year. “I had to endure a lot-physically and mentally-to be able to complete the one-year training. Flying a fighter aircraft, as you might know, is quite unlike flying commercial planes. And we’re trained accordingly, being trained as we are in aerodynamics, i.e., the knowledge of aircraft mechanics, crises management, emergency landing, etc.” chips in Navin.
For Navin, still smitten by his achievement, the best part of the event was when Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force, Air Chief Marshal B.S. Dhanoa, who was the Reviewing Officer of the parade, took off his own wings from his uniform and pinned them to the young pilot's uniform. “It was an unforgettable moment and great gesture on his behalf. I will cherish the wings and keep them with me as long as I am in service. It’s like a motivating factor for me,” says a beaming Navin.
Not everyone gets the opportunity to join the Indian Air Force....