Cars Overtook This `Moth’ in the Sky

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You will not believe this. A six-day flight from Ghaziabad to Bengaluru. You could circumnavigate the globe 5-6 times in this period. Even a train journey is much faster for the same distance.

Cars Overtook This `Moth’ in the SkyBut then, fighter pilot, Wing Commander (retd) Prashant Nair was flying the Tiger Moth, a World War II-era plane. It took that long to bring his craft to the Aero Show 2017 in Bengaluru. Six days and 12 refuelling stops.

He could fly at a humble cruising speed of 130-139 kmph, which cars today can do. But the officer who once flew IAF’s meanest fighter jet, the Su-30, enjoys the Tiger Moth ride.

“The challenges are different, and so are the satisfaction levels. I enjoy flying this plane,“ Nair, 40, told TOI as he stood beside the yellow plane; it’s small, pretty and it’s vintage.

“Cars and other vehicles overtook me on the expressway on way to Bengaluru. But I overtook them as they stopped at toll booths,“ he quipped.

“The maximum height we can touch is 4,000 feet, it doesn’t have a canopy , and the wind hits the face.“  The plane can carry only 86 litres of fuel which has to be filled in manually. Unlike the fighter planes, the Moth gives us a view of things around. My sight-seeing included forts and palaces in Jaipur, the lakes and of course the mountains and the sunrise,” he said.

Cars Overtook This `Moth’ in the Sky
Fighter pilot, Wing Commander (retd) Prashant Nair

The Moth was the primary trainer aircraft for the Roy al Air Force during the Second World War and in the IAF till 1953. It had been designated to the Air Force Museum until 2012.

A two-seat, single bay biplane with a 145 hp Gypsy Major four-cylinder inverted air-cooled engine, the Moth was restored in 2012 by UK firm Reflight. “It is largely wood and fabric, with only the fuel tank made of metal,“ Prashant said.

Another pilot who has flown the Moth, Wing Commander H Kulshreshta said, “The nose wheel technology which most modern planes use wasn’t available. It operates with a tail wheel.It has to be started and refueled manually .”

Kulshreshta said, “The nose wheel technology which most modern planes use wasn’t available. It operates with a tail wheel. It has to be started and refueled manually.”

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