An acknowledgment of a great and safe aviator. He was the unsung hero of PIA who is overlooked, a giant among dwarfs, with a vision beyond making dollars on a flight pattern. He came from Orient Airways and should be placed at the same level as the first MD of PIA, Ispahani for his pioneering efforts for the fledgling airline which took it to London and New York in 1961, a first for any Asian airline.
Captain Shaukat interviewed me for trainee pilot selection in PIA (intelligence tests, interview and medical were over) initially at Lahore in October 1966, and sent about fourteen of us to the Lahore Flying Club for aptitude testing. In April 1967, he re-interviewed me and accepted me as trainee pilot in the newly opened PIA Flying Academy, which I joined on 1 May 1967. His remark at the second interview on seeing me was, “What has flying done to you.” He was flying the Trident at the time and the interview took place at the Chief Pilot’s Office at Lahore Airport during the stopover of the scheduled flight onwards to Karachi. His First Officer was Maqsood Ali Shah (retired DC-10 Commander, now deceased) who was also present in the room.
I had the privilege to be flight trained by him on the B707 as copilot in 1974. He had brought us early on the jets because he felt that we would be able to manage it. He had brought us as early as 1971 but the war intervened. This was in opposition to many in the PIA flying circles.
On the 747, I flew with him as copilot. I remember a flight pattern to Frankfurt from Dubai and from my logbook:
30 April 1977, AP-AYW, DXB-CAI, M.M. Salehjee; [CAI = Cairo] Captain Shaukat was present in the cockpit and the two were discussing some hill or obstruction on the flight path after takeoff from runway 30 at Dubai. It was a hot day so the climb out would be affected in case of engine failure. You may wonder but all these things have to be looked into. On noticing that I was not wearing the shoulder harness, he asked me to put it on it for takeoff as I told him that it interfered in my forward movement in the seat. I had to comply.
8-9 February 1978, AP-AYW, DXB-FRA-DXB – he shared the flying. At the Frankfurt hotel, Captain Saleem Lodhia, DC-10 copilot, and survivor of the Shamshernagar (East Pakistan 1971) air crash on a Fokker F-27 met us in the lobby and wanted to discuss some personal matter with him. I don’t think he was seen because Captain Shaukat was resting afterwards for the return flight back to Dubai. He was brusque with him in the lobby.
29 April 1979, AP-AYW, LHR-RWP [London]
15 December 1979, AP-BAK, KHI-BOM-KHI [Bombay] flying shared
15 March 1980, AP-AYV, KHI-RWP-KHI [Rawalpindi] flying shared
Then we went for a simulator session to Paris for the licence renewal on the 747. There was no simulator at Karachi at the time. He was the instructor pilot on the simulator. We had Captain A. A. Aziz and myself and the Flight Engineer. A.A. Aziz was panting and gasping and sweating profusely, in the simulator with all the manual flying and the emergencies thrown in and wanted to put the autopilot on.
That was the also the only time we met outside socially and we went to a restaurant in Paris. He also said that “I have walked and traversed this city on foot and know its each and every stone.“
There was an incident on the Fokker F-27 when the captain had an altercation with the ground engineer attending the aircraft. Something to do with a malfunctioning weather radar which according to the engineer was serviceable. The captain refused to accept the aircraft and the flight was delayed and then cancelled. Captain Shaukat was the Director Flight Operations and he called me to his office the next day. He asked me the background to this delay and I told him what had transpired. He said, I guessed so.
When I came to Canada in 1994, he visited our house in Brampton, Ontario. He was on his way to Halifax to see his brother who was terminally ill. On his return he again stopped by. He was known to my wife’s family, his cousin being friends of my in-laws in Rawalpindi. They had a common background in India.
He was well liked in PIA though as usual there were some nay sayers. He was all in all a management pilot but he never threw weight. I was saddened on learning that he had expired a few years after I last met him. He had told me his age, and then, that he had made his peace with God and had offered all the apologies he could for his life. That was 1997, as I will have to check my retirement book for the travel passages availed. Shahla had travelled with him from Karachi, and her manner towards him surprised me as it was casual, though all my life I had been nothing but deferential towards him while speaking or listening to him. So he was 78 then and would have been born in 97-78 = 1919, quite a senior person. He said on his own initiative that he would ask Shuja (Captain Shuja ul Hassan, PIA) to write a letter of recommendation for me for use in Canada. That letter came but I misplaced it. Shit.
Captain Shaukat Hussain Khan was a Pakistan aviation pioneer. He completed a pilot training course at the Indian Air Training Corps at Lucknow University in 1946 and joined Orient Airways in 1948. His services were transferred to PIA on the amalgamation of the two airlines. He became the senior most pilot in PIA on the death of Captain Ali Akhtar Khan in the PIA Boeing crash of May 1965 at Cairo. He retained this seniority till retirement from PIA in 1984 when he joined the Civil Aviation Authority Pakistan as Chief Flight Inspector. He flew a number of aircraft delivery flights to Pakistan which the Corporation acquired periodically. These included:
• Convair CV240
• Boeing 720
• Boeing 707
• Trident 1E
• 1974: DC-10-30 (AP-AXC): from Long Beach California
• 1976: B747-282 (AP-AYW) leased from TAP Portugal and flown from London to Islamabad with Captain Khusro Nawaz Khan as second pilot
• July 1979: B747-240B Combi (AP-BAK) from Seattle to Karachi
• March 1980: Airbus A300B4-203(AP-BAX) from Toulouse to Pakistan
• May 1985: As member of PIA delegation he accepted delivery of B737-340 (AP-BCA)
• June 1991: Accepted delivery of Airbus 310-308(AP-BDZ) as member of delegation
In PIA, he was:
• The Chief of Flight Operations 1957-58.
• In charge of London operations 1958-69.
• Chief Pilot Boeing 1961
• Chief Pilot Technical 1964.
• Vice President of Flight Operations 1965-68
• Chief Pilot Atlantic Operations 1972-73.
• Director Flight Operations 1973
• Director Operations 1975-80.
• Director Flight Safety 1975-85
• He flew all aircraft in the PIA fleet and was an instructor and check pilot.
• Vice President of the International Flight Safety Foundation from 1963-64.
• Total time of 24000 flight hours
Photos are courtesy of historyof PIA.com