Birth centenary of Air Chief Marshal P.C. Lal

December 6, 2016 Photo(s): By PRO (Air Force)

Air Chief Marshal Pratap Chandra Lal (December 1916 – August 1982) was the Chief of Air Staff during the Indo-Pakistan War of 1971. He served in the IAF from 1939 until his retirement in 1973. He served as the CO of No. 7 Squadron, AOC-in-C of Western Air Command, Vice Chief of the Air Staff before going on to serve as Chief of the Air Staff. He was the Chief of Air Staff at the time of the pre-emptive strikes that were carried out by the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) that marked the formal initiation of hostilities of the Indo-Pakistani War of 1971. It was under his able leadership, that the IAF won its most decisive victory in 1971. He was an instructor and a manager, par excellence. His contribution to India's aviation industry as Chairman of the Indian Airlines Corp. and MD of Hindustan Aeronautics Ltd, bear testament to his professional abilities. He was just the sort of person who could, and did, mould a large and rapidly expanding IAF into an efficient fighting force.

During the Second World War, Air Chief was awarded with Distinguished Flying Cross for the flying recce sorties over the Irrawaddy plains in Burma. He was the recipient of the Padma Bhushan and the Padma Vibhushan while serving with HAL and Indian Airlines.

He embarked on writing his memoirs My Years with the IAF, but died before completing them. His wife Mrs. Ela Lal finished the book that was published in 1983.