Thursday, November 23, 2006

Wg Cdr Inder Mohan Chopra (Chopie) 1932-2015

After the the first flight of Basant HA 31 on March 30, 1972

After the first flight of HF24 Mk 1A with Orpheus Engine Reheat
Wing Commander Inder Mohan Chopra (called Chopie).

He was born on May 3, 1932. He was commissioned in the flying branch of the Indian Air Force (IAF) on June 16, 1951 and was awarded the Sword of Honour for standing First in the course. He became a flying instructor in August 1953. Chopie graduated from Empire Test Pilots School UK in December 1957. Immediately after graduation he flew Hunters for production testing with Hawker Aircraft Ltd at Dunsfold, UK for six months. He was on deputation from the IAF to Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd. Bangalore (HAL) form January 1961 to May 1966. During this period he was actively involved in prototype development of the Marut HF 24. He carried out the first flight of HF24 Mk 1A with Orpheus Engine Reheat. Marut HF 24 Mk 1BX was modified for fitment of the Egyptian E300 engine on the right side with normal Orpheus engine on the left. It was the first Marut with twin hydraulic systems with no manual reversion. The tail plane and elevator were split but both were hydraulically operated. It was initially flown in Bangalore with the Orpheus fitted on both sides. Chopie did the first flight. The aircraft was then sent to Egypt.

Chopie was deputed to the Egyptian Aero General Organisaton, Helwan for flight development of the E300 engine in June 1966. A HAL team of about 25 headed by Gp.Capt. C. S. Naik (Retired as Air Marshal) was also sent to maintain the aircraft. The first flight with E300 engine fitted was done on March 29, 1967. A total of about 180 flights were done with the E 300 engine on the right and Orpheus on the left. The project was closed in July 1969.

Chopie prematurely retired form the IAF and joined HAL as the Chief Test Pilot. He carried out the first flight of Basant HA 31 on March 30, 1972. The aircraft was designed for agricultural spraying. The project was closed due to lack of interest by the Ministry of Agriculture. He carried out the first flight of HPT 32 (piston engine basic trainer) on January 6, 1977. The aircraft was designed for the IAF and is still being used.

In July 1980 he gave up flying and took the opportunity to work in management. He worked as General Manager of Overhaul Division and then the Aircraft Division. Later he became a Director on the Board of HAL and was the Chairman of the Company from April 1989. He retired form this position in May 1991. He is Fellow of the Aeronautical Society of India.