Air Commodore FS Hussain: The pioneer of PAF aerobatics

March 23,2019

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When India violated the airspace of Pakistan on 26 Feb 2019, it was announced the same day by Pakistan “Be ready for our surprises at our place and time of choice”. Wing Commander Noman Ali Khan and Squadron Leader Hassan Siddiqui led this surprise by shooting down two Indian aircraft and leaving the entire India in a state of shock and awe. Those who were trumpeting the “Vijay” on 26 Feb had no place to hide on 27 Feb 2019 against the ‘Nusrat of Allah’. Their pride was salvaged in the daylight, like the David who subdued the Goliath.

Salute to our ancestors who laid the foundation of a fighting force and enabled the PAF to give surprises to any intruder. Our ancestors proved Pakistan can survive against all odds and PAF will be an asset in the coming challenges. Air Commodore FS Hussain is one of them. He was the one who laid the foundations of fighter jet aircraft flying in PAF. Generally, people of Lucknow are considered aristocrats not fit for military service. Air Commodore FS Hussain proved otherwise. Fuad Shahid Hussain was born on 20 July, 1924 in Lucknow. His father’s name was Shaikh Shahid Hussain Qidwai. Fuad was the youngest amongst six brothers and sisters. His father got him the best education at the La Maritiniere College. He joined the Royal Indian Air Force on 4 Sept, 1944. At Independence, he opted for Pakistan and along with others established the No5 Squadron at PAF Base, Peshawar, on 15 Aug, 1947. The squadron was equipped with Tempest aircraft.

He had the honor to fly at low level and conducted dangerous maneuvers over Lahore on the first Pakistan Day on 21 March, 1948. He was a master in doing slow rolls or an inverted run at tree top height and a thrilling tail chase. Due to exceptional flying abilities, he was selected for Pilot Attack Instructors’ Course at the Central Gunnery School, Leconfield, UK.

In April 1949, he won the first position and set a Commonwealth record in air to air shooting. He earned the distinction to perform solo aerobatics at the coronation ceremony of Queen Elizabeth II. After the ceremony, Commander-in-Chief RAF, Air Chief Marshal Lord Tedder said “A generation of pilots is yet to be born, who will try to achieve the standards already perfected by Flight Lieutenant Hussain of RPAF.”

On 12 March, 1950 at Risalpur, Fuad displayed solo aerobatics in honor of Shah of Iran. The guest was so impressed with the polished skills close to ground that he directed his court poet to write a poem in Hussain’s praise. On 15 Aug, 1950, RPAF hosted an air display at the PAF Base Drigh Road (Faisal Base) Karachi in aid of RPAF benevolent fund. The show was witnessed by a crowd of 150,000 spectators inclusive of Prime Minister of Pakistan. FS Hussain was at his best flying a Fury aircraft, at 450 mph, rolled at precariously low altitude and then climbed his aircraft upside down.

Fuad took over as Officer Commanding No 5 squadron in Nov, 1951. Due to his able leadership, the squadron won the Perry Keene Inter Squadron Armament Trophy in Feb 1952. During these days, PAF decided to acquire jet aircraft for the first time. Undoubtedly, FS Hussain was the first choice to ferry these aircraft from the UK to Pakistan. He flew ferry of three aircraft via long but safe route Istress (France)-Malta-Al Eden (North Africa)-Nicosia-Baghdad and Karachi. On successful arrival, the newly inducted attacker aircraft were commissioned in No 11 squadron, adding a laurel to FS Hussain for being the pioneer of jet fighter flying in PAF. He was also appointed as Flight Commander of the squadron to operationalise the aircraft and familiarize the crew. Under his command, this squadron formed the first jet aerobatic team “Pay Bills” which performed their spectacular show towards the end of 1952.

On 22 Dec, 1956, he performed his aerobatic skills in honor of Chinese Premier Zhu-En-Lai. The Chinese guest of honor was highly impressed with the flying maestro that he requested to meet the pilot to admire the professional skills displayed.

The famous Red Letter Day (12 Feb, 1958) in the history of PAF was also made in presence of FS Hussain. It was an occasion when King Zahir Shah of Afghanistan witnessed an aerial loop with 16 F-86 Sabres of PAF Base Mauripur (now Masroor). Aviators understand how difficult it is to have an air loop with supersonic fighters. FS Hussain was instrumental in orchestrating this great show. Famous “Flight Magazine” of UK published a special feature on this historic air display.

He had also served as Base Commander, PAF Base Masroor from 1961-64. He had prepared the base for any unforeseen combats and the pilots proved equal to the task during the 1965 conflict with India . His students included MM Alam, Allaudin, Younus, Muniruddin, Sarfaraz Rafiqui, Saif-ul-Azam, Bill Latif and many others. All of his disciples considered him as a mentor, teacher and a great human being.

According to his family, during his career abroad, FS Hussain had flown over areas affected by nuclear radiation. Due to nuclear radiation in air, he developed some internal disorder. This abnormality was detected by doctors but the brave pilot fought it till end without sharing it with his colleagues, avoiding demoralization in PAF. His illness due to nuclear radiation is a lesson to avoid catastrophic results of any nuclear conflict anywhere in the world. Imagine the agony of a family who loses the chivalric head due to a disease uncommon in the Sixties. FS Hussain met his creator on 9 April, 1969 and was laid to rest in PAF graveyard, Peshawar. He left a widow Zareena Begum, one son Zahid Hussain and a daughter Ambreen.

Our neighbors always threaten us economically through international blacklisting and sanctions. They opt for not playing cricket with us. Yes they cannot match our will, skill and thrill. They will take time in figuring out for Pakistan’s surprises at our choice of place and time.


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