Flying - Passion for wings

I am not sure of the Wright brothers, but i certainly got my passion for flying from the Puranas. Hindu mythology is stuffed with tales about heroes and villans, who flew at will and thrill, before going for the kill. The Mahabharata and the Ramayana tell us a lot about the Vimanas, about men and women who flew them with elan, about people who could fly over mountains or soar across the oceans.

The Bed time stories narrated by my father had sown the seeds of passion for flying at a very tender age. For instance, I still remember him re-living the Ramayana, where the biggest hijack of those times is depicted when Ravana staged a kidnap (!) and flew with Sita in his stolen flying machine - the Pushpaka Vimana.While my brother and I would listen to the narration - spell bound, our thoughts behind the awesome incident were different. While he would have probably related to the emotional aspects of the kidnap (or maybe the literary aspects, for he is a poet) my thoughts were more on the feeling of riding the Vimana, a birds eye view from the grand vehicle, the horizon of the earth looming far, the rush of air against the face on the open cockpit and I used to be lost in dreams, on my own imaginary flght (you guessed right, i am a Piscean).

It would be a cinematic statement if I said - On that day, I swore I would fly. No, No such promise was made. On the contrary, the frequent doses of mythology sprinkled with abundant episodes of airborne adventures, combined with notes on an assortment of aircrafts, missiles and fancy weaponry, fuelled my passion for flying.

This continued well into Junior school, which was further fuelled by encouragements from parents and my mentor (Rajee Akka - a Physics professor who used to live with us) who explained the basics of lift, drag, pitch and yaw, and took me to flying related movies (the likes of Chitti Chitti Bang Bang, Tora Tora, Airport etc). My landlord of those days, a principal of a leading college, observing my interest in aviation, presented me with a book on World War II planes on my 12th birthday. This remained my most cherished book, betwen the Phantom, Flash Gordon, Mandrake and Asterix comics.

My first practical introduction to aeromodelling and the laws of avionics came at Senior School. Enrolling in the Air wing of the NCC, I quickly grew to the rank of a Junior Flight Sergeant. Clearing entrance exams for aeromodeling classes with flying colours, I met my first instructor - Captain Panicker, a world war vetran, a disciplinarian and taskmaster.

The next few years were memorable. My interest in this field helped me graduate ahead of class. Starting with chuck gliders, I soon moved to catapults to towlines and eventually control line models. I held the record (don't really know if it has been broken yet) in our district for the youngest control line pilot.There were no ARF's or even basic kits and each and every component had to be drawn, cut, filed, shaped and smoothend from blue priints traced out on Balsa. Smoothening aerofoil shapes was a nightmare, for the slightest loss in concentration would skew the design, earning the wrath of the tough captain.

College was a mixed bag, as far as flying was concerned. While I did have a chance to log quite a few hours of gliding (including a few SOLO's - see My first Solo link) as part of Senior NCC (1st year at College), flying soon took a backseat since the teens brought with it attractions and distraction befitting the age. Macho sports like Cricket, Tennis, Shuttle (a few teen thrills ;-)) took centerstage, while the thrills of flying got relegated to the last in my list of priorities.It remained there till the end of college, but got re-kindled, after graduation - but that is another story (see RC Flying link) Thus started my passion and experiences with avionics.

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