Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Gp Capt Kapil Bhargava VM Indian AF (Ret) 1928-2014

Kapil Bhargava was born in 1928. He graduated in 1947 with a BSc in Physics, Chemistry and Mathematics. He was commissioned in the Indian Air Force (IAF) in 1950, which was to be the beginning of a 26year career with the IAF.

Initially serving as a fighter pilot, he trained as a Pilot Attack Instructor at RAF Leconfield in 1953 and then joined the Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) for Test Pilot training in 1956. The following year he spent some time as a Test Pilot with Short Bros (Belfast) and Hunting Percival (Luton) in the UK. On return to India, he worked for three years at Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd (HAL) becoming its Chief Test Pilot for a while. He returned to the UK to test fly the Avro 748 with AV Roe and Co, followed by flight testing the license built Avro 748 in India, making its maiden flight.

In 1963, he was deputed by the IAF to the Egyptian Aircraft Factory at Helwan, south of Cairo, Egypt. This was to undertake Flight Testing of the Hispano Aviación HA-300, as Egypt did not have any Test Pilots of its own at that time. The aircraft was an ultra light single seat delta shaped fighter, with perhaps world’s thinnest duralumin wing (3% thickness/chord ratio). It had a separate tail plane. Its design team was led by the legendary German aircraft constructor Willy Messerschmitt famous for Me-190 and Me-262 etc. Kapil made the maiden flight of the HA-300 on 7th March 1964. The aircraft was taken to Mach 1.13 and all flying on it completed without a single safety problem. He also trained two Egyptian Air Force officers as experimental test pilots. The Egyptians aborted the project in 1969.

In 1970, Kapil was Officer Commanding the Aircraft & Armament Testing Unit and became the 1st Commandant of the Indian Air Force’s Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), India’s own mini-Edwards AFB or Boscombe Down.

He retired from the Indian Air Force in 1976 and has worked in various Management positions within the Aerospace Industry. Currently he is a freelance writer on Professional Subjects.