It has been quite sometime since the aircraft of the Vintage Flight of the Indian Air Force took to the air, but many remember their last public appearance almost fourteen years ago in 1989, when the Tigermoth, Spitfire and Vampire took to the air during the Air Force Day Parade. The memories of the flypast were however marred by the tragic crash of a Mirage 2000 from No.7 Squadron flown by Wg Cdr R Bakshi who was putting up a solo display.

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De Havilland FB.52 Vampire makes a low flying pass over the crowd on 8th October 1989.

Close up of the Vampire IB-799 during the flypast. Click to Enlarge

The flypast started towards the fag-end of the program, and was the penultimate event before the Mirage display. The first aircraft was the Tigermoth DH.82 HU-713 in yellow training colors. This was followed by the Cirrus Major powered HT-2 IX-732. The Indian Air Force already had Lycoming powered HT-2s flying at the FIS even in 1989. 

Supermarine Spitfire VIII   NH-631 buzzes the podium at low-level during the flypast. Note the line of static aircraft display. The Vampire was flying astern to the Spitfire on   its starboard side. Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge The Spitfire and the   Vampire peel off at the end of the flypast. This was the last time that the two aircraft were seen flying together.

The Spitfire and the Vampire came next, making a low flypast over the tarmac. Both aircraft peeled off after one run. This was captured well on TV. We are in the process of getting a video clip of the flypast, but it may take some time before it sees the light of the day. The last event of the day was the solo display by the Mirage 2000 which ended in the fatal crash.

The Vampire turns back to head for the Palam airfield. Click to Enlarge
Click to Enlarge This Special Postal cover to commemorate 51 years of Jet flight featured IB-799. There is no information as to the date of when the picture was taken

That was the last occasion on which the public got to see the Vintage flight in action. The aircraft have not been flown publicly after that day.  On later occasions, the aircraft have been towed past the podium, perhaps to reduce the risk of accidents but the maintenance and upkeep of these aircraft is kept at airworthy standards.

Acknowledgements: Our thanks to Arun Sharma for the photographs and information in this feature. The first day cover featuring the Vampire can be bought directly from the Indian Air Force Museum for Rupees Ten.

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