The capital city of Jammu and Kashmir is the city of Srinagar. Located in the Kashmir Valley, Srinagar’s airfield was located at Badgam village and it was the launching pad for the Indian Air Force flying in troops in October 1947 with Sikh troops that protected the valley against the tribal invasion.
Subsequently, Srinagar Airfield became both a civil airfield as well as an Indian Air Force station. And it today is home to 1 Wing. It suffered the onslaught of operations in 1947, 1962, 1965 1971, 1999 Kargil, and even the recent air action over the 2019 Balakot air strikes. Srinagar has always been in the thick of it. Srinagar also has the distinction of being home to the battle that got the IAF its first and only Param Vir Chakra – the highest gallantry award in India. That award was given for an action in December 1971 in which Flying Officer Nirmal Jit Singh Sekhon, flying a HAL Gnat took on six Pakistani F-86s single-handedly and lost his life in the battle.
Today, the Air Force Station itself is quite sprawling – gone was the dirt strip and lone control tower, and in its place is a mini-city. Fittingly, one warbird that has a place of pride is the HAL Gnat – S.No. E1056, mounted on a pylon.
It is to be noted that the Gnats flew from Srinagar in the 70s and were later succeeded by the Ajeets. This particular Gnat was built right before the 1971 war, in September 1971. Not much is known about its service except that the aircraft was retired from IAF service just nine years later – in 1980. The year or date that this aircraft was assigned to warbird duties is unclear as well.