From Sir With Love

3.2 From Sir With Love

Part I
     New Delhi: “I always knew he would leave no stone unturned to reach the zenith. Flying was in his blood,”reminisces 72-year-old Capt. B. L. Ghei, one of Vijaypat Singhania’s Flying instructors. And November 27, 2005, is a day he’ll always remember with great fondness and pride. For that’s the day his student, the 67-year-old Raymond chairman created aviation history by flying in a hot air balloon at 69,852 feet.
     Ghei first met Singhania way back in the ’60s when he was assistant
 pilot instructor the Hind Provincial Flying Club in Kanpur. Singhania was then a young man with a passion for flying. As he was the scion of the JK family, everybody was ready to extend all privileges to him and treat him with kid gloves. But Singhania would hear nothing of it.
     “Flying would start early morning and we would try to
 adjust the timings for him, but he would wait his turn like everybody else. He would address us as ‘Sir’, come well before time and was a keen learner.”
     No wonder he started flying
 solo in a record time of 15 hours. And the plane he flew? A Piper Cub J3C. “He did a real professional landing and then touched the chief instructor’s feet. I have never seen a more down-to-earthperson,” says his mentor. That’s a new one in world where children of biggies assume the mantle of importance automatically.
Shoba John (TNN)

Part II
     In our country, we have two entrepreneurs who have a feeling for flights and heights: JRD Tata first and Dr. Vijaypat Singhania later, taking their passion to the sky like Howard Hughes before them. Dr. Singhania literallytouched the sky, talked to the clouds. The 67-year-old industrialist set a new world record for high altitude in a hot air balloon when he touched 68,852 ft above sea level, breaking Per Linstrand’s 1998 record of 64,997 ft.
It was much-awaited
 moment: the return of the aviator. On a brilliant afternoon, a panoramic view at 4.20 pm from the Members’ Enclosure of the 200 acres of the Mahalaxmi Race Course in Mumbai included that of a proud Dr. Singhania. The pride had a patriotic trace in it. “It took an Indian to break a 17 year-old record,” he said.
 pursuit for the record began before sunrise at 6.39 am and took Dr. Singhania two hours and 14 minutes with an average vertical speed of 600 to 700 ft per minute. “I have been an aviator for 46 years and flown for many an hour, but it is the first time I decided to take gamble in a hot air balloon. I’m not sure how Per Linstrand, who held the current record, will feel. But I’m sure he will feel good,’ said Dr. Singhania, thanking his nautical engineering team. “This is not a one-man project. Hats off to Colin Prescot and Andy Elson,” said Dr. Singhania with eyes fixed on the future and its inhabitants.
     I’m sure that many young boys and girls will be
 encouraged to pursue different sports to choose an area, make an effort to excel and pursue the sport with a passion till it become an obsession,” he wished. His son, Gautam Singhania, in a lighter vein, however, excused himself from the record books leaving for ‘record-breaking papa’.
Nandini Raghavendra