Air Chief Marshal Hrushikesh Moolgavkar

PVSM MVC

 01 Feb 1976 - 31 Aug 1978

Air Chief Marshal Moolgavkar was born on 14 Aug 1920. He was educated at Bombay and England.

Hrushikesh Moolgavkar was commissioned in the Royal Indian Air Force on 30 November 1940. He was posted to No. 1 Squadron flying the Hawker Harts after commissioning and soon converted to Lysanders. In January,  No. 1 Squadron moved to Toungoo airfield in Burma for operations against the Japanese.

After returning from Burma Operations, Moolgavkar served with No. 10 Squadron and later with No.4 Squadron as a Flying Officer, flying the Hurricane and Spitfire fighters. During operations on the Burma front, he did a total 280 hours of operational flying which included bombing and gunnery. He commanded No. 10 Squadron from 09 May 1947 to 21 Feb 1948, flying the Tempest and Hawker Tempest II.

Moolgavkar took over as the Commanding Officer of No. 1 Operations Wing at Srinagar from Wing Commander MM Engineer in late September 1948 when the Kashmir Operations were underway. He was responsible for planning and execution of close air support during the famous Zoji La battle. His determination, initiative and drive enabled the RIAF to render effective support to the Army. For his contribution in these operations, Moolgavkar received the Maha Vir Chakra for exceptional gallantry and leadership.

In February 1949, an Aircraft Testing Unit was formed consisting of pilots of No. 7 Squadron. The ATU received four Vampire F3 fighter bombers which were the first Jet fighters for an Asian air arm. Wg Cdr Moolgavkar was put in charge of the ATU on its tour of India. He was one of the first to convert to the Vampire at Poona and soon after took the aircraft to Bombay, and Madras on public displays around the country.

In 1951, Moolgavkar was Director of Operations in the rank of Group Captain. He was in France for the evaluation of the Ouragan aircraft and he led the first flight of four Ouragan fighters flown to India all the way from France.

In 1954, he was part of the team under Air Cmde PC Lal along with Flt Lt Roshan Suri, which went to France and UK to test and procure a second generation Jet Fighter for the IAF. He was one of the first three Indian pilots to fly faster than sound while testing the Mystere IVA and later the Supermarine Swift. The team came back after having decided on the procurement of the Mystere IVA. He was also one of the first to fly the Gnat fighter when the IAF evaluated it at Chilboten in UK.

In 1957 Moolgavkar commanded Air Force Station Palam, with Vampires of No. 7 and No. 10 Squadron. Later on during the 1965 War, he was the Base Commander for Nagpur. 

He took over as AOC-in-C Western Air Command in 1973, and soon after in 1976, he was awarded the PVSM for distinguished service. Not soon after, on 01 Feb 1976, he took over as the Chief of the Air Staff of the Indian Air Force. As the CAS, Moolgavkar implemented several reforms and rules that saw improvement of flight safety across the whole of the Indian Air Force.

Upon retirement, Air Chief Marshal Moolgavkar settled down in Pune. 

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