Skip to main content

VIEW: Sajad Haider Saved my Life - i think. UNPUBLISHED (so far)

There is a story behind these carelessly uttered, yet delightfully cryptic words, one that will not figure in Air Cdre Sajad Haider’s part memoir, part expose - Flight of the Falcon. It happened more than a quarter of a century ago during a simple routine training exercise carried out to groom operational pilots to be pair leaders before they moved up as section and finally flight leaders. Now, all operational pilots are expected to lead a flight of 2 in mock combat missions to qualify as pair leaders. In late 1969, a fresh operational Flying Officer (F/O) from No. 14 Squadron stationed at PAF Base Dhaka, was detailed to fly a check sortie (the clearance test) with the redoubtable, (then) Wing Commander, Nosey Haider. Their mission was to carry out a low level airfield strike. A Mig-21 silhouette, painted in the apron at a satellite airfield provided the target for their planned low level ingress followed by a simulated gun attack.

The F/O remembered that the navigation was on track, pull-up point - a bit close and attack angle - steep. Roughly translated, this meant that it would have been lunacy to continue with the maneuver. Rather than abandon the attack, the audacious F/O pressed on, as failure to bring accurate gun attack camera cine (film) was not an option – for him anyway.

‘Pull Out’, screamed Haider as the F/O merrily continued with the attack profile past prescribed safety regulations and a collision with ground became imminent. The scream had its effect. The F/O pulled out, after completing the simulated attack, but not before busting the minimum recovery attitude of 300 feet by a wide margin and coming perilously close to becoming a statistic.

On their return, Haider simulated engine rough running emergency with the still alive, much shaken yet unrepentant F/O, who then assumed the position of leader. ‘Pull up’, ordered the young F/O authoritatively, and announced the requisite emergency engine recovery steps.

‘No improvement’, was the answer, followed a little later by a doleful, ‘engine seized’.

‘Eject’ ordered the F/O since no emergency field was nearby.

‘Ejection seat not working’, came the glib reply.

The F/O’s frantic suggestion to prepare for a crash landing was complacently met with ‘frozen controls’.

An exasperated F/O racked his brains, and finding it empty, bade his doomed comrade farewell with a hearty ‘Goodbye to you then’.

There was an ominous silence.

Nosey called off the simulated emergency and assumed command of the formation. The rest of the flight was uneventful. The de-brief was very eventful. The young F/O was hauled up for the unceremonious send-off given to his Squadron Commander. ‘Gentlemen! Did you know this ****** fellow was sending me off to hell’, Nosey sputtered in mock anger. The F/O remained unfazed, stood his ground and maintained that he had no options left and could he (Nosey) suggest an alternative?

Nosey could not.

The F/O was pulled apart for violating the minimum pullout height and reminded that without Nosey’s timely warning, he - (the F/O) - would have been the one being bidden an untimely – but well deserved farewell. Though the F/O’s film camera, on assessment, showed that the attack was considered to be accurate, he was nevertheless grounded for 3 days for busting the minimum limit. The F/O was, however, cleared as a Pair Leader. “An idiot who puts his life on the line to achieve the mission, even a simulated one, has the germs of a true fighter jock- provided he lives long enough” – was Nosey’s parting shot.

Or words to that effect.

As recounted by Air Cdre (R) Jamal Hussain, the unfortunate young Flying Officer in this story, who did survive long enough to command an elite Fighter Squadron and a Fighter Base in the PAF. He is presently pushing boundaries as a media Defense Analyst. And, remains unrepentant to this day.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

BOOK REVIEW: Pakistan: Beyond The ‘Crisis State’ / Author: Maleeha Lodhi

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Published in Daily Times / Saturday, June 18, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Published under the title: 17 Reasons to Hope

“History will be what we make it. If we go on as we are, history will have its revenge and retribution”— from the movie, ‘Good Night, & Good Luck’

A region known for most “terrorist sightings”, a place feared for harbouring medieval mindsets next to progressive thinkers and a nation shunned for having an affinity for nuclear toys. By turns a cautionary tale, an indispensable ally and an international pariah, Pakistan does not fit into any mould — for long. But its name crops up whenever things go awry.

Pakistan: Beyond the ‘Crisis State’ is a compilation of articles put together by Maleeha Lodhi that countermands the grim prognosis. When Ms Lodhi, who has served as Pakistan’s ambassador to the US and UK, acknowledges that “resilience has been part of Pakistan’s story from its inception, obscured by the single issue lens…

VIEW: Of Clarion Calls and Golden Statuettes / By Afrah Jamal

First Published in Daily Times /Saturday, March 17, 2012

Elegiac laments for a fading film industry are interrupted midway with news that could give the documentary film medium at least a new lease of life. It owes its resurrection to a young filmmaker, who mined troubling sound-bytes overheard in theatres where war, injustice or social disparity reigns supreme. Clips aired at the third Karachi Literature Festival (KLF) held earlier this year provided glimpses of her work, including the internationally acclaimed ‘Saving Face’. At the time, she had an Emmy stacked away for one documentary and was just weeks away from winning an Academy Award for another. At the time, she had been relentlessly crusading to rid societies of those anachronistic practices (among other ills) that weigh them down in the modern world. And — despite these glittering credentials — her work was largely unknown amongst Pakistanis.

The young Oscar nominee who took the stage that day would soon be the face of a bur…

BOOK REVIEW: DIARIES OF FIELD MARSHAL MOHAMMAD AYUB KHAN 1966-1972

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
PUBLISHED IN THE POST AUG 29, 2007

Books allow people to have their say. Diaries express what they actually meant. Therefore, every prominent personality must stray from the path of political correctness and leave behind a diary. One way to regain an insight into the defining moments of our history post ‘65 War would be through the diaries of Pakistan’s first military ruler and first C-in-C, Field Marshal M. Ayub Khan, who also authored the book, ‘Friends. Not Masters’. The personal lives of public figures are always intriguing; while their contemporaries indict/acquit them on consequences of their actions, diaries give individuals a rare shot at swaying the upcoming generation of juries. Recorded during the uneasy calm before an inevitable storm brewing on the Eastern horizon and Indian front, the entries, spanning 7 years from September 1966 - October 1972, are replete with shrewdness and candor of a narrator who observed the events initially as a key player…

BOOK REVIEW: Hira Mandi / Author: Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson

Published in Daily Times Saturday, February 11, 2012

Reproduced on Claudine Le Tourneur Dlson's Website

Translated from French by Priyanka Jhijaria

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

A programme about Hira Mandi did the internet rounds a couple of years ago. It claimed, among other things, that the sons of the ‘dancers’ reportedly end up as lawyers, doctors, artists — a few join politics and some even reach the military. These outrageous statistics may be one of the reasons the documentary was banned from the mainstream media. That and its primary premise — the plight of the fallen women — would prompt the conservatives to howl with dismay before scurrying off to bury any evidence in the backyard along with other bodies.


Claudine Le Tourneur d’Ison embeds such wrenching moments in a bold narrative where its doomed protagonist can hail the brave new world and its genteel patrons from an extraordinary vantage point. The expedition to the underworld with the unfortunate progeny and the hapless…

SERIES REVIEW: THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS / Rick Riordan (2013)

First Published inDaily Times / 5 Jan 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal

Demigod fans who bade farewell to Percy – (son of Poseidon) & the Olympian franchise a few years ago must have wondered what the writer was up to as they came across a ‘final’ Prophesy conveniently left unresolved at the end of the saga.

The Last Olympian’ concluded the five part series wrapping up Percy Jackson & his merry band of demi-gods' extended arc with a high-octane finale and an emotional send-off. Though Rick Riordan had moved on to explore Egypt in ‘The Kane Chronicles’, he wasn’t done with Olympus, its ever shifting centre of power or its hoity-toity god population for that matter.

The cryptic warning heard in the final pages is used to establish the credentials of this spin-off. The gods return in the ‘Heroes of Olympus’ series - distant as ever and in Roman form heralding a brand new dawn with the promise of new crusades, a shiny new quest, fresh faces and an ancient threat. And Percy is b…

BOOK REVIEW: How It Happened

Published in Daily Times / Sat 9 Feb 2013

Reviewed by: Afrah Jamal
Author: Shazaf Fatima Haider

Thanks to Liberty Books for the (temp) review copy

Gwendolen: I am engaged to Mr. Worthing, mamma.

Lady Bracknell: Pardon me, you are not engaged to anyone. When you do become engaged to someone, I, or your father, should his health permit him, will inform you of the fact. An engagement should come on a young girl as a surprise, pleasant or unpleasant, as the case may be. It is hardly a matter that she could be allowed to arrange for herself . . .”
-
The Importance of being Earnest (Oscar Wilde)


Characters chasing ‘happily ever after’s’ are often pulled aside by enterprising elders who try to flag all but the most traditional road to the altar. A fiendishly funny narrative pounces on the retreating figure of Cupid and explores his cultural relevance in the sport they call match-making.

The saga of the Bandian clan comes with a perpetually scandalized, formidable old lady fiercely protective…

BOOK REVIEW: Kasab, The Face of 26/11

Thanks to Liberty Books for the review copy

Thanks to the Writer for the lovely emails despite the 'scathing review'

Published inDaily Times / Saturday, February 12, 2011

Reviewed by Afrah Jamal

Author: Rommel Rodrigues

November 26, 2008 was India’s 9/11 — or so they say. It was the day 10 gunmen held one city hostage for over 60 hours. A day that sent accusations flying across the border, and the fear of something deadlier being traded saw the international community scrambling for cover. India was breaking news for days. Pakistan also made headlines around that time but not for the same reasons.

They caught the perpetrator. Ajmal Kasab is exhibit A in the case against the country of his birth. What little is known about Kasab (the name literally means butcher), beyond his nationality (Pakistani) and vocation (deadly pawn) comes from a hastily complied sketch leaked to the media in the early days of the attack. The rest came from following the trail of breadcrumbs, obligingly l…