On the Wings of Destiny

Dilbagh Singh

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This volume is the life story of Air Chief Marshal Dilbagh Singh PVSM, AVSM, VM written by him before his unfortunate demise. Acknowledged as an outstanding professional fighter pilot and an outstanding commander during his four decades of service in the Indian Air Force, he was an imposing personality, tall, upright, smiling, confident and a born leader who set very high standards for himself and everyone under his command. He possessed great skills not only in operational matters, but also a mature understanding of the key role of the human element in the exercise of leadership.

This book is an example of Dilbagh's extraordinary skills in recording not only a narrative of daily life – starting decades ago – in the Air Force, but the emotional element that brings each event, each incident, alive. His style is frank and forthright but laced with a charming touch of humility. Noteworthy also is – and this soon becomes apparent – that many paragraphs are narrations with a purpose, a deliberate choice to underline an important point – happily often peppered with wit and humour! The vivid account of his forty years in the Air Force also bears testimony to his truly remarkable memory of events and incidents from the very start of his career, memories of colleagues and friends, of emotions, of aspirations, and of the pulls and pressures of the all too frequent challenges and crises, big and small; and how he faced and surmounted each. It is so true that those of us who have spent the best years of our lives in the Air Force and want to live them all over again, cannot do better than to take to the skies 'On The Wings of Destiny'!

For those not of the Air Force, but still curious about what life in the Air Force is all about, this book will be something they will greatly relish. It is, of course, a charming and accurate narration of Air Force life, of one who rose all the way to the top: of its thrills and its excitement, of friendship and camaraderie; of tragedy and of sorrow; of humour and of happiness; of action and of achievement. It is basically all about the challenging but wonderful life in the Indian Air Force which exists ready for action against the aggressor within minutes. Of special interest to the discerning reader will surely be Dilbagh's effort, in his rather charming and modest way, to tell us what, in his view, leadership is all about. And with it all, the story of his life gives a wonderful insight into the happiness and deep satisfaction of human relationships that life, in our Air Force at least, offers.

Dilbagh Singh Air Chief Marshal Dilbagh Singh PVSM, AVSM, VM (Retd) was commissioned in the Indian Air Force in 1944 and was assigned to No.1 Squadron, flying Hurricanes. He participated in the operation during the Pakistani invasion of Kashmir in 1947, flying the famous Spitfire fighters from Srinagar against Pakistani forces. For his exceptional courage and performance in war, he was Mentioned-in-Dispatches. He was specially selected to take over command of No. 1 Squadron, being re-equipped with Mystere IVA aircraft in 1956.
In 1965, Dilbagh Singh was appointed Deputy Director (Weapons) at Air Headquarters. On promotion to the rank of Group Captain, he served at Halwara AFB. During 1971 War against Pakistan, Dilbagh Singh was the commanding officer of Lohegaon AFB, near Pune. His outstanding performance in war and peace led to his appointment as Senior Air Staff Officer in Western Air Command in 1976. In 1978, he rose to the rank of Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief (AOC-in-C) of Western Air Command. He was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal and later the Param Vishist Seva Medal for distinguished service to the Air Force and the nation.

 

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