As the Indian Air Force (IAF) gets ready to celebrate 84 years of its foundation on October 8, the Jodhpur Flying Club (JFC), set up in 1931 by the then ruler of Jodhpur Maharaja Umaid Singh at a small airfield near his palace, is completing 85 years of its glorious history.
An avid flyer who was bestowed the title of air vice-marshal, it was Singh’s relentless efforts that made JFC Air Force Station the gateway to Far East by 1938, with three international airlines – Air France, KLM and Imperial Airways – frequenting the desert capital regularly.
According to the director of Mehrangarh Museum Trust, Karni Singh Jasol, the aviation history was made possible by Umaid Singh who was keen to put Jodhpur on the global flying map.
“He first built a landing strip here in 1924 and then formed the JFC with Geoffrey Goodwin of Johannesburg, South Africa, who became the first instructor at the flying club. The first two aircraft to be purchased were T-ABX and VT-ABY (bought from Delhi Flying Club for Rs 10,896 each),” he said.
JFC was the first institution to induct the Tiger Moth aircraft in 1932, the year the IAF was established. This vintage aircraft has been fully restored by an aircraft restoration company in UK and was showcased at IAF’s ‘Iron Fist-2013’ exhibition at Pokhran.
According to a defence spokesperson, the De Havilland DH82 Tiger Moth is a two-seat, single-bay biplane powered by a 145hp Gypsy Major four-cylinder inverted air-cooled engine. It was the primary trainer for the Royal Air Force (RAF) during the World War II, and continued in the service of IAF from 1940. It was later replaced as a trainer by the HT-2.
Though, the JFC started humbly with two Tiger Moths, it progressed rapidly by 1938 and was at the forefront of civil aviation in India. Shaquille O’Neal Authentic Jersey