Most people manage to excel in just one field in their lifetime. But spine surgeon Dr Nagesh Bhandari is a trained pilot as well. Taking his passion forward in the 1990s, he launched a flight school in Ahmedabad. In 2004, he started a training programme for Aircraft Maintenance Engineers (AMEs). Recently, he has pioneered a B.Sc. programme for AMEs.
â€œMy brothers and I have always had a passion for aircraft but during the 1980s when our family was establishing the engineering company Electrotherm, the aviation sector was strictly government controlled,â€™â€™ says Bhandari. This changed in the 1990s when aviation was liberalized here.
Nageshâ€™s brother, Dr Rakesh Bhandari, who has a pilot license from Canada often bemoaned the standard of training for aspiring pilots here. â€œDuring the 1990s, my brother and I decided to open a flight school,â€ says Nagesh. Thus Ahmedabad Aviation & Aeronautics (AAA) was founded in 1994. â€œIt operated from hangars at the Sardar Vallabhai Patel International Airport,â€™â€™he explains.
The flying school has five single-engine aircraft and one flight simulator and a ground school. It also claims to be the first pilot training institute in India to import Elite I Gate class of Flight Navigation Procedure Trainer. â€œWe revived the disused Mehsana Airport, north of Ahmedabad, on a public-private partnership basis between the government of Gujarat and a private company and Ahmedabad Aviation and Aeronautics (AAA) in 2007. This airport has been upgraded and is an important part of our flight school,â€™â€™ says Bhandari.
16/03/14 Anil Mulchandani/New Indian Express