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   I am aware that Air India... (May 14, 1991)

I am aware that Air India is looking for people to fly its planes, grounded because of the pilors' strike, but I did not know how desperate they were till this morning, when an executive of the airline came to me and asked me to fly one of the planes.

"I fly a plane?" I said. "I don't know the first thing about flying planes, beyond telling the crew to man the dorrs' and occasionally telling passengers that we are flying over Dubrovnik or Greece."

"If Captain Sharma, Captain Malhotra. Captain Khanna and Captain Arora can fly, so can you, the executive said. "There is nothing to it, most of the time the airhostesses will be doing all the work, you will be just sitting in the cockpit and having coffe."

"Still, I must know some things," I said. "I mean, I don't know wether to press the green or the red buttons to start the engines; and I have heard of the throttle, everybody has, but I don't know where it is and whether I am supposed to push it or pull it to increase speed."

"It will all come to you by and by," the executive said. "Captain Desai, Captain Mody, Captain Dave and Captain Bhatt did not know everything on the first day, they also learnt."

"Well, maybe they did not, but at least they went to schools where they were taught the basics of flying and were sent to Toukouse or wherever to learn to fly new planes and come back with them." I said. "I don't think on my own I can locate Frankfurt airport, from the sky everything looks the same."

"Don't let these little details bother you, at least in this moment of crisis," the executive said. "Do you think Captain Pingle, Captain Atre, CaptainVengsarkar and Captain Adivarekar bothered about these details when they started flying! And today see where they are…on strike."

"True," I said, "but I don't want to take the responsibility of the lives of 300 passengers plus the crew on my head. Just supposing I cannot keep the plane in the sky while we are crossing the sea and it crashed, I will never forgive myself."

"A true pilot never thinks of such eventualities," the executive said. Otherwise Captain Venugopalan, Captain Veeraswamy, Captain Venkaravaradan and Captain Vishwamitra would never have become pilots."

"I don't know," I said, "I still do not think it would be quite right for me to fly. You must give me some time to think."

When Captain Bilpodiwalla, Captain Batliwalla, Captain Mullaferoze and Captain Darukhanwalla decided to fly, they just flew," the executive said. "They did not sit and think about it."

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