September 27, 2022
Situated 43km from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad is the Air Force Academy

Situated 43km from the twin cities of Hyderabad and Secunderabad is the Air Force Academy [AFA] at Dundigal village. The AFA is the cradle of training not only for the IAF pilots, but also for the ground duty and technical officers . Established at this location in the year 1971, every year two batches of pilots graduate to proceed for further training in the Fighter , Transport and the Helicopter wings at other training establishments.

The AFA has numerous HPT-32 Deepak piston engine trainers to impart Ab-initio training and HAL HJT-16 Kiran Mk 1 Jet Trainers to impart basic Jet aircraft training. Apart from this, Ground Duty officer training is also carried out in various trades.

The Academy is spread over 6770 Acres and houses both the airbase and the residential facilities of the airforce personnel. The Academy has numerous vintage aircraft on display inside its premises to provide motivation and insight into the flying machines of the Indian Air Force. The collection ranges from the rare and vintage Tigermoth biplane and Harvard trainer to the more recent MiG-21 FL and Kiran.

As many as eleven aircraft are on display at various places in the academy , a twelfth aircraft , a TS-11 Iskra has been taken on charge in Dec 2004. These were soon followed by two new additions – A MiG-25R and a Canberra PR.57 .

A View of the Eternal Pilot, a memorial dedicated to the flying personnel of the IAF.
Click to Enlarge The Academy Memorial – lists the names of the flying personnel killed over the years at the Academy.

The aircraft had been on display since years, and the ravages of time and nature have left an impact on these old aircraft.

However a new team of air force personnel, from the AFA’s Repair and Salvage Unit have taken up the task of returning these old warriors to their former glory. Under the guidance of the Commandant of the AFA, Air Vice Marshal S Bhojwani, a ‘Warbird’ enthusiast himself , they have done pioneering work in restoring and maintaining these vintage aircraft.

Click to Enlarge The Commandant of AFA, Air Vice Marshal Subhash Bhojwani, is seen in the picture on the left showing the newly restored Harvard [IT-365] aircraft to Air Chief Marshal (Retd) Dennis La Fontaine. Pic Courtesy AVM S Bhojwani.
This Model of the Harvard aircraft was presented to the Academy at its previous location by the Maharaja of Jodhpur. When the AFA was moved to Dundigal in 1971, this artifact has been bought to the existing premises and displayed. Click to Enlarge

Varying from complete overhaul of aircraft structures to simple basic measures like making the display environs more presentable, their work had resulted in strikingly noticeable improvements. Some innovations made by the team like the “Cockpit canopy protection covers” were carried out for the first time in the country. This practice has since been being adopted in other locations.

Click to Enlarge THE MEN WITH THE MAGIC HANDS: The Team of restorers from the Repair and Salvage unit pose by their latest project, the Sukhoi-7 BMK. Their work is not limited to the vintage aircraft at Dundigal, but also at the nearby Hakimpet FTW and other locations.
Not seen anywhere outside, but wheeled out for display only on Passing out Parade days is this massive SA-2 missile. Another missile is on display at the JCO Mess. Click to Enlarge

In addition to the existing collection, plans were afoot to acquire a Douglas Dakota and an Hawker Hunter. The quantum of work put in by the restoration team was enormous, and their success has spilled over to other restoration efforts in the area. They had been called over to restore a Vampire at the Fighter Training Wing in Hakimpet and install other vintage aircraft in the area. The following is the list of aircraft and details of their location in the AFA. Click on the links on the top left of the page to know and see about each individual aircraft.

Aircraft Type Serial No Remarks
De Havilland Tigermoth HU-838 Air Force Academy Museum, AFA Dundigal
NA Harvard IT-365 Air Force Academy Museum, AFA Dundigal
HAL HT-2 IX-718 Air Force Academy Museum, AFA Dundigal
DH Vampire FB 52 IB-1638 Vampire Triangle, AFA Dundigal
Dassault Ouragan IC-578 Toofani Triangle, AFA Dundigal
Dassault Mystere IVa IA-938 Toofani Triangle, AFA Dundigal
HAL Gnat I E-355 Sekhon Block, AFA Dundigal
HAL HF-24 Marut 1T D-1691 Air Force Academy , AFA Dundigal
MiG-21 FL C-1167 Air Cadets Mess, AFA Dundigal
Sukhoi-7 BMK B-784 Toofani Triangle, AFA Dundigal
HAL HJT-16 Kiran U-328 Air Force Academy Memorial, AFA Dundigal
HAL HJT-16 Kiran U-718 Cutaway Aircraft
HAL HJT-16 Kiran U-752 Cockpit Section only
HAL HJT-16 Kiran U-??? Ejection Seat Simulator
HAL HPT-32 Deepak X-2354 Fuselage only – For Cockpit Training
HAL HPT-32 Deepak X-3246 Cutaway Aircraft
PZL TS-11 Iskra W-1772 Air Cadets Mess, AFA Dundigal
MiG-25U DS-362 Unknown
English Electric Canberra PR.57 ?? Unknown

To know more about the Air Force Academy and its operations, visit the Official Indian Airforce Site’s page.

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