The Pleasure of Gliding

It was a summer morning with gentle breeze flowing, and greenery all around, at Newton Air force mess, UK in 1987. I was part of NCC Youth Exchange Delegation, it was going to be our first day of flying Gliders on foreign soil. While all of us were anxious to fly the glider aircrafts, I was vexed about meals. All preparations were non-veg and I was a hardcore vegetarian!

It was a summer morning with gentle breeze flowing, and greenery all around, at Newton Air force mess, UK in 1987. I was part of NCC Youth Exchange Delegation, it was going to be our first day of flying Gliders on foreign soil. While all of us were anxious to fly the glider aircrafts, I was vexed about meals. All preparations were non-veg and I was a hardcore vegetarian!

As, I looked around a pretty girl, standing by my side said  “I am Nancy, What will you have sir”. Startled, I said, “good morning, am a veg and there seems nothing for me in your Menu.”  She smiled and said, “Of course, we have Eggs and Fish in the Veg spread” . I was taken aback, but she was my only hope then, and I did not want to go hungry for flying, so I asked for boiled potatoes if possible. “Surely sir, will serve you boiled potatoes.” Her concern for my state, made me quite comfortable to fly that morning. By then flying briefing was announced. I headed towards the briefing room, only to be told that my sortie was slotted as the last one for the day since I was late for the briefing.  The instructor, Group Captain Jim seemed a terrible person because of his strictness.  I could just stand and see gilder’s taking off under tow of a power glider and ascending to 800 odd feet’s before detaching tow and then a flight time of about 16 -20 mins turning into thermal conditions, against Rohini gliders in India which generally offered a flight time of 3-7 mins. I was watching out of the crew room, and heard a voice, “how’s it going sir, Groupie Jim is a strict man , hope he did not pull you up for being late, enjoy the  grilled potatoes with pepper and salt Sir” –Nancy was standing with a tray. “Well Nancy so nice of you, you are really caring.” “No sir, it’s my job to ensure that everybody is well fed before they fly”.

As my flying turn came the gliders looked classy in their red belly and white top canopies. Groupi Jim was my instructor pilot in rear cockpit; he did not exchange any pleasantries and asked me to rattle out pre- flight checks and emergencies. I was bang on and made no mistakes. He then gave me additional points about R/T procedures etc. We took off and Jim’s said, “Unless you rely on yourself you won’t be able to fly this machine. All your! To my horror, the glider had already started rolling with front power glider towing and speed increasing every second, luckily take off detaching the tow cable and flight were good, but landing was hard. As the cockpit canopy opened on the parking bay, Jim said, “You fly well cadet, see you doing a solo soon.”

As we all assembled in crew room for debriefing, I realized everyone had a good joy ride except for me, as they were talking of the green top country side view and the river down curves and gush.

In evening we all assembled at the mess for drinks and snacks followed by dinner. Of course before I could look for Nancy she was in front, with her cute smile greeting me with potatoes. “Sir don’t worry these are your French fries. What’s your drink? Phew, I didn’t expect this welcome. I wanted to talk to her for her graciousness was killing me, but she won’t budge as it was her time on job and not to talk informally.

As days passed, I was cleared for solo and was flying solo, but Nancy refused to meet me in working hours, however she took care of my meals. So I confronted Nancy one morning during breakfast and asked her to meet sometime the same day. She said, of course today is my half day at work, will meet you in the evening for a drink. I was a bit confused as how can a waitress be allowed in officer mess to have a drink informally.

That evening , I was sitting alone on a corner table of mess lawns , all my fellow cadets kept enquiring  why was I not joining them, I excused myself as I had  a guest. After 20 Mins she walked up to me and said hi, she was looking so different and beautiful , that she did not look any bit of waitress who had cared for me. As the conversation flowed, I realized Nancy was an officer’s daughter with a strong sense of dignity of labor and was doing the job of a waitress for her pocket money. She was a science student and intended to fly in the RAF one day. I offered her a glider joyride if Groupi Jim permitted, as a gratitude for the care she took of me, and as a precursor to her ambition to fly one day. Well, she gave me a very naughty smile but then expressed excitement at the offer and asked me to try to take permission from Jim.

Next day was heading to the glider, I saw Groupi Jim and said, sir I have a request, what’s the matter are you not feeling well? enquired Jim. I said, sir Nancy the stewardess; she took care of my Veg meals so well that I need to repay her debt.  She is keen to fly, so I want to take her along for a sortie. I added she made me realize what the dignity of labor and dedication to job is. Hmmm said Jim, I will fly her on your behalf. I said but sir, today before we leave the base for good. He said sure, it’s a commitment. And he called for Nancy to strap up, I felt happy. As I walked for my penultimate sortie in UK, I was surprised to see Nancy, strapped up in front cockpit and waving at me, I looked around – Jim spoke, your sortie… take her around, express your gratitude to her yourself. My joy knew no bounds.

As we rolled for takeoff under tow, Nancy seemed excited. As aircraft was gaining height, she was enjoying the view and expressing her desire to fly often. Nancy was very jovial and I expressed my gratitude in air, she expressed her heartfelt thanks for the flying experience. I realized it was time to land as we were on end of circuit turning for finals. She firmly said “Controls with me”, I was shocked and thought it’s gonna be suicidal, if she persist on landing. she added, I am qualified Glider pilot License holder with 250 sorties on this type of aircraft, and Jim is my father. I called ATC for Jim on radio, “it’s true” said Jim. “Controls with Nancy” were my word, stunned at attitude displayed by Nancy, and the way the machine was brought down gently without any bumps or panic, probably it was the best touchdown till then I had experienced.

By Cdr Sanjeev Deshpande(Retd)



Story Published in Quarterdeck Magazine 2017 –


Supervision & Human Errors

“To Err may be human but it is for that human to suffer”! And someone else mentioned that accidents happen because “from design to construction to flying and maintenance, a human is involved. Any failure of any human in this chain could lead to an accident. Thus all accidents are due to ‘Human Error’. Where no human is blameworthy then it is an Act of God.”


Alexander Pope in one of his essays stated that “To err is Human”. An erstwhile Air Chief, however, twisted the words of Alexander Pope and said “To Err may be human but it is for that human to suffer”! And some else mentioned that accidents happen because “from design to construction to flying and maintenance, a human is involved. Any failure of any human in this chain could lead to an accident. Thus all accidents are due to ‘Human Error’. Where no human is blameworthy then it is an Act of God.”

In the IAF, aircraft accidents have happened mainly due to:

  1. Lack of experience
  2. Over/under confidence
  3. Inadequate training
  4. Lack of or absence of supervision.
  5. Lack of Self-discipline

Let us discuss these in succeeding paragraphs.

Accidents, as the word suggests, do happen. It would be naïve to record them as “Acts of God”.  A theoretically qualified person may have the requisite knowledge but may not have adequate experience to undertake a given task. Therefore, like in the medical profession, there needs to be a period of “internship” under an experienced person for the newly inducted worker. In the IAF, many a times one is transferred from one type of aircraft/equipment to another. It would be a fallacy to consider such a person ‘experienced’ on the new type merely because of his/her seniority in Service. Hence, experience on type assumes greater importance.

Many accidents, especially those involving aircraft, take place due to an individual being under confident or, in some cases, over confident. Under confidence stems from inadequate training, low motivation or an inherent fear of failure. Over confidence is essentially an over dose of egoistic tendencies. Both such conditions are detrimental to safe operations.

Training plays a very important role in building up an individual’s confidence and self-esteem. The training patterns adopted must not be over demanding and at the same time not be mediocre in nature. Good training methods those are easy to imbibe and instill the requisite amount of confidence leading to a well motivated professional.

A well motivated, confident and professionally trained individual would be less prone to making errors. Supervisors play a very important role in not only the growth of an individual’s professional capabilities but also in minimizing errors committed by them leading to accidents/incidents.

So, what is ‘Supervision’?

The Cambridge English Dictionary defines it as “the act of watching a person or activity and making certain that everything is done correctly, safely, etc”.

Supervision is an act or action that is provided by a senior member of a profession to a junior member or members of that same profession. This action serves the purpose of enhancing the professional functioning of a relatively junior member(s) of a group by monitoring the quality of professional services undertaken. It stands to reason that the Supervisor himself is expected to be knowledgeable both in theory and practical aspects of the job in hand. It is the supervisor who instills confidence in the supervisee through suggestions and advice.

In aviation, supervision assumes greater importance since the margins of error are very narrow. While, say, the newly inducted aircraft technician working on an aircraft may be qualified after undergoing the requisite training on type, he would lack the experience. This is where the supervisor assumes the role of a guide and mentor to ensure that the task is accomplished without any issues. Professional supervision is a process to enable and guide a worker towards competent and accountable practice. It also provides ongoing professional development and support.

In the Air Force supervision, therefore, means to carry out functions of planning, organizing and monitoring the tasks at various levels Supervisors at the top (Officers) supervise the activities of middle-level managers (Warrant Ranks) who supervise the activities of lower level managers Sergeants) who finally supervise the conduct of non-managers i.e. Corporals and below.

Supervision serves the following objectives:

  1. Promotes communication: It helps Supervisors at all levels to understand workers’ goals, and workers understand organizational goals and, thus, contribute to organizational productivity.
  2. Promote motivation: Supervision along with two-way communication motivates the workers to achieve the organizational targets.
  3. Evaluate performance: Supervision evaluates the performance of workers and determines their potential to enhance professional ability.
  4. Improve performance: If workers are not able to complete the allocated tasks, supervision helps in guiding and improving their performance.

Some supervisors assume the role of a “Helicopter” supervisor by always hovering around the worker. At times such ‘hovering’ is counter-productive because the worker feels that there is a trust-deficit. This could lead to missing carrying out an essential aspect of the task. Some supervisors are at the other extreme of the spectrum and accept that a task has been completed without checking themselves.

A good supervisor is one who briefs his subordinates with clarity about the tasks required to be performed. Once the subordinate reports completion of the given task, it is incumbent on the supervisor to check that the work has been done following the correct procedures. In aviation there is no leeway to take short-cuts.

Last but not the least; discipline plays a very vital role in avoiding accidents. No amount of supervision would be successful if this vital ingredient is missing from an individual’s mental makeup. While discipline forms an intrinsic part of an Air Warrior’s service life, at times it plays truant and gets the individual in to a difficult situation. Therefore, it is important for an Air Warrior to develop a sense of “self- discipline”. The dictionary defines “Self Discipline” as “the ability to control one’s feelings and overcome one’s weaknesses.” This attribute can be developed through training and practice. Yoga and meditation could be adopted to achieve a high degree of self discipline. In the ultimate analysis it is this factor that is overwhelmingly responsible for avoiding accidents.

Finally, Indian Air Force can ill-afford to lose personnel and equipment due to lackadaisical approach to tasks by its personnel especially the supervisors. Supervision and Human Errors are interlinked and must be well understood by all the key players in the chain of command. Reduction, if not elimination, of human error accidents/incidents is achievable if supervisors at all levels go about their tasks in a professional manner.

Air Cmde Ashok Chhibbar       

Air Cmde AD Chhibbar, AVSM (Retd)


Is IoT going to be ubiquitous ?

IoT ready -IoT has a transformational impact on all sectors because it is fundamentally changing products, business models, processes and customer interaction. Ultimately success of IoT solution depends on the acceptance and adaptability of people.

Internet of Things

We grew up playing the paper game -name,place,animal,thing…..Which I say was loosely coupled to what we call today -Internet of things or the buzz word IoTWikipedia definition ]. So when we synergize the name [people], geo locations [place] ,animal [let us say data points] and things[sensors and devices] we get information and that when pushed through some number crunching results in analytics. So joining these dots using wireless or wireline communication leads to the world of IoT. The natural thinking is why IoT has come on the center stage now ,the answer is simple – because the various components of IoT like sensors, wireless and wireline connectivity,edge devices and switches, cloud infrastructure and data analytics have now matured adequately to be put together as a complete use case for the betterment of the organization / society.The actual strength of IoT is not in the hardware [sensors etc] , the power comes from the software that connects the data points and derives analytic values from this data and helps us to solve problem statement. IoT is a greenfield market and allows new players with new business models, approaches, and solutions, to play around and run their imagination wild to find solutions and monetize .

The worldwide Internet of Things (IoT) is expected to be a USD 328 billion market by 2020. The IoT market in India is poised to launch with the government initiative of building 100 smart cities solutions, there are tremendous opportunities for IoT starts up to come up and create job opportunity and fuel the fire for entrepreneurship. Actually the word internet (in IoT) is actually a misnomer as we need not always use internet to connect ……it can well work with the wireless connectivity. Job creation is the pay off as that improves a certain organization/community and as example – city transport can be improved and thus scalability of transport means more driver and mechanic job available.

How Does IoT Affect Me-According to Gartner approximately 26 billion connected devices will be in place by 2020. So from switching on the geyser or air conditioner when I am just 20 minutes short of my house to finding a vacant parking site or tracking the shuttle to office are all the enablers for IoT.

Having said that IoT holds promise to anyone with creativity and imagination to coin a business use case, let me talk about using it for any organization whether local or global for monitoring its IT infrastructure.

IoT for Organizational IT infrastructure

Integrating IoT with legacy Computerized Maintenance Management System (CMMS) is a low hanging fruit for startups and entrepreneurs to jump into the IoT bandwagon. Every organization has IT infrastructure giving the machine 2 Machine connectivity maybe for software dev /server/finance/operations and manufacturing. All these machines are though under SLA /AMC need to be monitored for the following.

  • CPU and Memory utilization
  • Throughput and volume of traffic in the network
  • Outage due to hardware issue
  • Trends and analytics
  • Predictive analytics
  • Specify multiple conditions, triggers, and responses
  • Identify potential problems with data analysis tools
  • Automate work order generation based on specified triggers

For IT maintenance –IoT is basically talking to the asset and listening to what the asset is trying to tell us. This helps us to take informed decision before outage takes place. In the maintenance lingo –reduce the MTTR and MTBR…by say staging forward the replacement hardware well before the outage/downtime and rely more on predictive maintenance.

Real time data


  • Extensive range of new technologies and skills to master
  • Depending on the use case and story the immaturity of technologies and services
  • Sensor maturity [positive negatives]
  • Security of the end points and the solution
  • Connectivity management
  • Application enablement
  • Devices and data collection management

IoT ready -IoT has a transformational impact on all sectors because it is fundamentally changing products, business models, processes and customer interaction. Ultimately success of IoT solution depends on the acceptance and adaptability of people. It is platform that uses data analytics and automates function for the betterment of the organization / society and enhances the customer delight. IoT has solution for transport, machine, agriculture, manufacturing, retail, food industry……et al. The catch is to identify the business use case and grab the opportunity to kick off into the world of IoT.

[The views expressed in this article are my personal]

By Lt Col Avadhut Deshpande,(Retd) , Signals

Of Press and Presstitutes


As a young boy of four, I picked up the newspaper from the doorstep and happily trundled to my father. As I handed over the day’s paper to him my subconscious mind registered something in broad, black writing. It was my first ever copy of the Times of India. The headlines, as I got to know later, were the news of Sardar Patel’s untimely death. That was “NEWS”!

And thus began my long association with the Times of India, which has lasted over 60 years. A long time indeed during which the newspaper has seen many glorious triumphs and, of late, some damaging lows. In the early days of my newspaper reading, it would be the ‘rarest of the rare’ occasion to find a spelling mistake in the paper. Today mistakes, not only of the spellings but sentence construction too, are the norm rather than an exception. Wonder whatever happened to the editor’s sharp eye and command of the English language?

In the olden, golden days the news was either communicated over the ‘All India Radio’ with the mercurial voices of Chakrapani and Melville D’Mello, or the newspapers like Times of India. Talyarkhan’s “did you get me, Steve?” sports column was my favorite. And, wonder of wonders, the newspapers carried “News”! Sometimes, as I reflect upon the years gone by, I do wonder what happened to the good old system of reporting news.

Today, the newspapers are full of advertisements and whatever space is left is dedicated to rapes, murders, road accidents and the like. Some information of national political leaders is inserted, edgewise, to give a semblance of ‘news”. The TV news channels are a class apart. Main discussions are with a few pliant panelists. Those who have a mind of their own are not allowed to speak by the anchors. The anchors try to shove their personal (or is it their boss’) opinion down everyone’s throat. The result: shouting match between the anchor and the panelists. The loser in this all is the viewer who, in disgust, switches off the channel. TV anchors like Arnab and Rajdeep would do well to start a roadside fish or vegetable shop, yelling away the qualities of their product. Maybe Barkha could join them along with Rahul and Sawant. What is really annoying is that every channel has “Breaking News” flashing throughout. Even an innocuous thing like a celebrity’s sandals becomes “Breaking News”.

The journalist of yesteryear’s would spend hours researching the news to be printed or aired to ensure its authenticity. Today, in an attempt to be the first to “break” news, half baked information is touted as “News”. During the J & K floods footage/pictures of a similar calamity in South America were being shown. Newspapers and Channels reportedly get paid to twist, turn and murder the news as per the requirement of the payer. The TV channels, and to some extent the newspapers, have assumed that they have the right to make or break an individual through the power of their reach. Many a times, unfortunately, the truth is the victim. Ask the MoS, MEA who has been at the receiving end of the electronic media’s ire recently. Because of the very inconsistencies of the media, the General was constrained to fire the “Presstitute” shot. And it hit where it hurts the most…..the very heart of the electronic media’s convoluted thinking.

It would do them well to comprehend this……On a signboard, outside a complex, was written “Due to rising cost of ammunition, NO warning shot will be fired. Thank you for your understanding.” The public is getting truly cheesed off by the antics of the Newspaper and TV Barons.

To echo the sentiments of sensible people, I would just like to say “Koi lauta de mere beete huey din………” when truth in reporting was paramount!!!

By Air Cmde Ashok Chhibbar(Retd)

Ashok Chhibbar

Digital Marketing Better Done in House

The cheapest way to increase visibility in your business domain is through digital marketing. Yes true some time back. Today its probably not so , compared to the money invested with agencies and ROI statistics.

The cheapest way to increase visibility in your business domain is through digital marketing. Yes true some time back. Today its probably not so , compared to the money invested with agencies and ROI statistics. The marketing agencies have also realized this and tactfully started on earnings through retainer-ship module. Google for one which provides 90% of tangible visibility has become, a well , in which pour(invest) money akin water and its not filled up ever. Intangibly you are happy yes visibility achieved.

In the era of hi-tech large volume digitization, may be if scrutinized with open mind conventional visibility methods too are providing results. Of course all this argument rests on type of product you intend to sell or introduce in market.

As a thought it is proposed by building an in-house team with digital marketing professionals , we can achieve better results and have focused visibility vector of our product than paying huge sums as retainership fees and still pay Digital media for usage.

I would like to invite your thoughts on this issue.

By Sanjeev

Digital Marketing Expert
Sanjeev Deshpande

Digital transformation the GIS way

For me an as army veteran , map reading was more a art than science (GPS). The ability to navigate in unknown terrain without being

spotted is the crux of the map reading. The first introduction to this art was in the map reading theory class at the military academy .

For me an as army veteran , map reading was more a art than science (GPS). The ability to navigate in unknown terrain without being

spotted is the crux of the map reading. The first introduction to this art was in the map reading theory class at the military academy . The practical classes were on top of  nearby hill tops with  army map in hand and find out your own location with the exact six figure grid reference and identify distant hill tops on the map. Even today the army teaches you basic map reading and you need to pass the practical as well as tactical appreciation test using the  map. So understanding the terms – contours, scale, magnetic north, re-entrant, whale back, ring contour and the trig heights was essential to be understood and used along with the age old reliable compass. So the question that comes in mind, why  don’t they use the GPS or Google  maps ? The answer is simple all these gizmos and apps leave a digital footprint of where the soldier is positioned [ so the enemy knows where you are standing] . The army makes use of the latest technology in secure way but also banks upon the legacy method of map reading. IRNSS, the Indian Regional Navigation Satellite System….is Indian version of the GPS to be functional in the near future to provide positioning, navigation and timing services for users over Indian region.

The earliest map mentioned by Wikipedia–says that around  600 BC ,Anaximander was the first to draw a map of the known world, It is for this reason that he is considered by many to be the first mapmaker or Cartographer, we have come a long way with discovery of new  lands ,and in all these activities the role of maps cannot be underestimated.Map making or cartography  has been one of the most important achievements for humankind, as it was because of this mankind was able to spread throughout the globe. I won’t be wrong in saying – due to map the commerce/business expanded. GIS is the modern avatar of map making /cartography and all  industries have a use case for using GIS to further the return on investments. GIS applications can be disruptive and fuel the digital transformation in the industries still untouched by IT.

Today the GIS is the solution for all the mapping needs and opens  a complete new stack for IT . The digitization of the geo features enables the user to correlate the data points giving insights into the business metrics. So what is digitizing ? , it is the process of converting an analogue map into a digital format . Data forms the backbone of the GIS , spatial data is available mostly in analogue form i.e. in the form of maps, imageries, aerial photographs etc. Perhaps the biggest bottleneck in the GIS industry is the proper reproduction of the analogue data into digital form.. .this process is resource and capital intensive , the solution can display rich data that eases the decision making process.Value add can be the integration of big data and predictive analytics with the various layers of GIS can be a force multiplier.

The digitization process basically involves the raster to vector format conversion. Following are the common process used for digitization.

  •      Manual Digitizing [ It is done using digitizing tablet]
  •      Heads-up Digitizing [Accuracy is better and takes lesser time than the above process]
  •    Interactive tracing method [better digitizing in terms of speed and accuracy]
  •     Automatic Digitizing [high speed and accuracy along with improved quality of images.]

Application of GIS

  • Telecom – CSP ,ISV and the enterprise business have a variety of use case for GIS – display the important KPIs and status of alarms on the map for proactive action to mitigate outages.
  •   Medical and Healthcare – This can be at the pan nation level as well as global level to depict the health care metrics for various serious medical conditions correlated with the geo climate [temperature/humidity/altitude]. Also the movement of healthcare medicines and equipment and tracking the location of ambulances.
  •  Manufacturing – Tracking the raw materials movement [Just in time or the pull model] and the finished goods location.
  •  IT Industry – The monitoring of switches [metrics] for proactive actions before outage.
  •   Logistics – Tracking the movement of train/aircraft/trucks and the various transit warehouse
  •   e Commerce – Tracking the orders in a geo area with the availability of SKU to ensure minimum transportation cost and time.
  •   Disaster Management – Use Satellite images and 3 D maps for planning and rescue missions.
  • e Governance – Enable the various dept to monitor the geo locations with the connected metrics updated on the GIS. Case in point the Digital India [ Bharat net ] initiative tracked on GIS renders the progress of the fiber laying project to the last mile.
  •  Social Media/ TV – GIS renders the count of the tweets with the breakdown of the regions.
  •  Sports – During marathon all participants have RFID for tracking the timing, GIS will give the location of the runners on the map .

GIS stack  can be disruptive and drive  the digital transformation in the

industries still untouched by IT.

On a map it is not how far you are from your objective but how far ahead you have reached in pursuit of that objective….Attitude Matters


By Lt Col Avadhut Deshpande (Retd) – Signals