Anuj Verma currently pilots an ALH Mk – III for the Indian Air Force. To spur the students on, he simply chose to narrate his story – of how he realized his dreams, and pieced it all together with the story of the aircraft model he designed. Team MM managed to get a few minutes of his time to tap into his experience and bring it to the readers.
MM: Tell us a bit about yourself.
AV: I did my entire schooling from Kendriya Vidyalayas, starting from Rishikesh, Dehradun and Haridwar in the north to Shillong and Guwahati in the east. Studying at schools across the country gave me exposure to various fields – the KV at Shillong is an Indian Army campus, the KV at Guwahati is an Indian Air Force campus and the KV at Haridwar is a campus of Bharat Heavy Electricals Limited (BHEL). Adding to that, both my parents were teachers, so there was the immediate option of making a career in the line of education. All in all, I had a diverse pool of choices to choose from for a career. Finally, I decided to go for engineering.
MM: So you never planned on joining the Indian Air Force along the way?
AV: No, I had planned it. During my preparation days in 11th and 12th, I had decided to go for engineering and then join the Indian Air Force through Combined defence Services (CDS) after graduation. When I finally took my CDS exam, I was ranked 1 in the country. However, I am still interested in engineering and would like to become a test pilot someday, which requires skills of both an engineer and a pilot.
MM: What exactly prompted you to join an offbeat, unconventional career such as the Indian Air Force?
AV: As I said, I had planned it before entering engineering. But then, in my third year, I had gone to Bangalore for one of the Udaan Club project. There I got to meet some of my seniors. They were leading good lives, but I thought to myself that this is not the life I want to live. In another incident, during my stint at Reliance Infra as a civil engineer, I realized that there are two ways to go about in the world of civil engineering – either you are in a position where you get everything you desire or you have enough money to buy those things. I decided to go for the first – in armed forces you will always command honour and respect.
MM: What exactly is your job in the Indian Air Force?
AV: Currently, I pilot the ALH MK – III, which is an indigenous helicopter made by HAL. This is my fourth aircraft – earlier I have flown Kiran, Hawk and Chetak. Basically there are two situations – war-time scenario and peace time scenario. During peace-time scenario, we are training for war. Then there are helicopters on standby for Search and Rescue (SAR) operations. If some major accident happens within my area of operation, I would be assigned for a SAR operation. My unit was actively involved in the SAR operations during the Kedarnath floods. Other than that, ALHs are also used for offensive missions like Special Heli Borne Operations (SHBO). The recent operation by the Indian Govt. in Myanmar is an example of that.
MM: Is civil engineering relevant to your current job in any way?
AV: It pretty much isn’t. I had to start all over again after joining the Indian Air Force. But my time at NIT gave me the opportunity to build myself, in terms of personality. After being through all that competition and interaction at NIT, I have gained a certain confidence.
MM: Tell us more about your project with Udaan Club – the aircraft model in front of BBA.
AV: It has been a long cherished dream of mine to build the first human powered aircraft of India. To this extent, I teamed up with some like-minded friends of mine to build such a model. At that point, we had no clue about how to build an aero model. So we talked to the Director and were sent to Amaravati, Maharashtra for a workshop on aero-modelling that cost the institute INR 86,000; the only stipulation being that we teach the students what we learnt when we came back. After doing this, we built a small scale of the model and using that design, commissioned a workshop outside the institute to build a larger model according to our specifications, which cost INR 400,000.
MM: What is your message for the students?
AV: Remember to enjoy your time in NIT Rourkela and use the four years you have here to their full extent. I have cherished memories of my time in the hostels and institute.
If you want to spend your time studying, make sure you do so completely. If you want to enjoy college life, make sure you do so completely. This way you’ll not have any regrets later in life.