Achievements

This budding aviator wants to be a ‘Top Gun’ fighter pilot

Apeejay Noida alumnus Nirmalya Nath, who has got into the elite Indira Gandhi Rashtriya Uran Akademi (IGRUA), is determined to join the Indian Air Force.

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Nirmalya made his mark by securing the 18th rank in the prestigious IGRUA exam. Located at Fursatganj in Amethi, UP, IGRUA, considered the IIT / IIM of aviation training, is India’s only central government-owned pilot training institute. It also provides special training courses for Indian Navy and India Coast Guard pilots. After completion of training, the 18-year-old will obtain his commercial pilot licence and B.Sc (Aviation) degree. In an interview, the former Head Boy of Apeejay School, Noida (Batch 2020-21) talks about his passion for flying, fascination with the Tom Cruise starrer ‘Top Gun’, his future plans and much more.

You must be on cloud nine?

I am more relieved than happy. It was my childhood dream to get into IGRUA, and finally my dream has fructified. My hard work has paid off.

What inspired you to become a pilot?

I saw an awe-inspiring Air Show in Canada when I was 10. It was a treat to watch different types of airplanes and their impressive manoeuvres. I even got to interact with some of the pilots. That was the day when I made a resolution to become a pilot. When I was in class 9-10, I started doing research to find out the finest pilot training facility in India. That’s how I got introduced to IGRUA. I also got amazing feedback from pilots about IGRUA. The institute is so good that it offers specifically designed training courses for Indian Navy and Indian Coast Guard Pilots.

Tell us about IGRUA’s selection process.

Candidates are shortlisted for selection on the basis of a written test, comprising questions from Physics, Maths, English, Reasoning and Current Affairs, followed by a pilot aptitude test. Once candidates clear these two rounds, they are eligible to appear before an interview panel which consists of representatives from Air India Limited, Directorate General of Civil Aviation, a psychologist and IGRUA examiners. Pilot aptitude tests are meant to test the ability of an individual to succeed in a certain task, without having any previous knowledge or training.

As a back-up plan, did you also take IIT-JEE coaching?

No, I only prepared for the IGRUA entrance exam through self-study. Taking coaching for IIT-JEE was not on my radar as I was pretty clear in my head as to what I wanted to do after class 12.

Did you follow a rigorous study schedule as you had to prepare for class 12 boards and IGRUA exam?

Absolutely not! I am one of those who maintain a healthy balance between studies and leisure. After studying with full dedication, I used to go for walks or cycling, do yoga or play football with my friends. The trick is to follow a routine. I also like playing drums. In fact, I have a drum set at home. I also know how to play the tabla. All these hobbies kept me in good spirits.

What fascinates you about planes?

Flying feels like freedom. You are above everyone else, away from the city’s hustle and bustle. You get to fly at different altitudes and environmental conditions. You also get to meet new people and discover new places. This is what attracts me to flying.

Which are your favourite aircraft?

My favourite jetliner is the Boeing 777. Its engine is enormous and produces massive thrust. It’s fitted with a glass cockpit and has an average cruise speed of 960 kilometres per hour. It’s a flying marvel. My favourite fighter jet is Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II, a multi-role fighter. It’s one of the world’s most manoeuverable aircraft, it can take off and land vertically.

Are you inspired by Tom Cruise’s Top Gun?

Of course (laughs). It’s such an iconic movie. The stunning visuals, the performance of Tom Cruise, the high-octane action scenes, and the mind-blowing fighter jets left an indelible mark on me. In fact, it emboldened my resolve to become a pilot.

What are your future plans?

After finishing this three-year course, I aim to join the Indian Air Force. There is no greater honour than to serve your country. Also, the thrill you get from flying the high tech fighter jets can’t be expressed in words. It’s also a more challenging preposition compared to flying a commercial plane. I get goosebumps even thinking about it.

Dheeraj Sharma is Asst. Editor (Newsroom). He covers events, webinars, conducts interviews and brings you exciting news snippets. He has over 10 years' of experience in prominent media organizations. He takes pleasure in the small things in life and believes a healthy work-life balance is key to happiness. You can reach him at [email protected]

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