Squadron Leader Sardar Dalip Singh Majithia of Dumri, was born on July 27, 1920 at Shimla into a Shergill Jat family,he was the son of Sardar Kirpal Singh Majithia of Dumri, who was a prominent figure in Punjab during the British rule as was his grandfather Sardar Sir Sundar Singh Majithia who was associated with the Chief Khalsa Diwan and one of the founders of Khalsa College, Amritsar, Punjab. When he was young he joined the erstwhile Royal Indian Air Force in November 1939 volunteer reserve in 1940 during World War-II. Sardar Dalip Singh Majithia initially learnt the basic nuances of flying on a Gypsy Moth aircraft at Karachi Flying Club. And joined the 4th Pilot’s Course at the Initial Training School (ITA) in Walton, Lahore, in August 1940 and three months later he was awarded the best pilot trophy and was posted to the No. 1 Flying Training School in Ambala to continue advanced flying training. And He along with his uncle Sardar Surjit Singh Majithia of Dumri , who was approximately eight years his senior in age, were both commissioned together. In June 1941, Dalip Singh Majithia was assigned to the No. 1 Coastal Defence Flight (CDF) based at St Thomas Mount in Madras, where he spent the next 15 months. “During this period, he piloted a variety of aircraft, including the Wapiti, Hart, Audax, and Atlanta, undertaking missions critical to coastal security such as patrols, convoy escorts, and naval reconnaissance, Majithia was posted to 151 Operational Training Unit (OTU) at Risalpur to undergo conversion training on the Harvard and Hurricane aircraft, in preparation for deployment to the warfront.

In March 1943, Majithia joined No. 6 Squadron in the rank of flying officer under the command of the ‘Baba’ Mehar Singh, another famous name in the annals of IAF’s history. In January 1944, Majitjia was posted as Flight Commander of No. 3 Squadron flying Hurricanes. He flew extensively in Kohat where Air Marshal Asghar Khan, a future Chief of Air Staff of Pakistan Air Force, was one of his squadron mates. Air Marshal Randhir Singh, who was later awarded Vir Chakra in 1948 also served in the same squadron at the time.In his next posting, Dalip Singh Majithia was stationed in Burma as Flight Commander of No. 4 Squadron. After a long bout of illness which kept him out of active flying, Majithia served a stint in the Air HQs and later in Melbourne, Australia, as the IAF’s Liaison Officer to the Joint Chiefs of Staff in Australia.After completing his tenure in Australia, Dalip Singh Majithia retired from the Indian Air Force on March 18, 1947, and settled down at his family’s estate at Sardarnagar, near Gorakhpur, in Uttar Pradesh. In 1949, he made history of sorts when he conducted the first landing of an aircraft in Kathmandu, Nepal, on an unprepared piece of land which is today the site of the country’s international airport. He was married to Joan Sanders Majithia who was a code breaker in the Women’s Royal Australian Navy Service during the Second World War. Talented with numbers, Joan was picked to join a top-secret codebreaking unit formally called Fleet Radio Unit Melbourne (FRUMEL), a collaboration between Australian, US and UK naval forces. Joan Sanders Majithia passed away in 2021 at the age of 100. The couple had two daughters, Bibaji Kiran Majithia and Bibaji Mira Majithia. Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia also known as “The oldest living pilot of the Indian Air Force” was died at the age of 103 at his farm in Uttarakhand on Monday 16 April 2024.

Sources :

  • Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia – The Indian Express Pvt Ltd
  • Squadron Leader Dalip Singh Majithia – The Tribune.
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