Road Name: Suranjan Das Road named after Suranjan Das (February 22nd, 1920 – January 10th, 1970)
Road Location: Puttappa Layout
Suranjan Das may not have made himself famous among the citizens but he surely did justice to his country. Group .Captain .Suranjan Das’ name will always stand for excellence in the profession of test flying and will always be an inspiration to all those who wish to make use of their life to quench the country.
Suranjan Das was a shining test flying pilot in the IAF. He first joined the Indian royal air force where he volunteered in World War II. He was one among the very few pilots who were chosen and sent to Empire Test Pilots School [ETPS] to test pilot for IAF. He also commanded the Halwara Air Force Station Base and was the director of the Aircraft & Armament Testing Group of the Indian Air Force  until his death.
They all said he was a boy whose eyes will always gaze upwards. Despite his passion towards flying and his wanting to become a pilot, Suranjan Das was forced to take up engineering. “You can never keep a good man down” they say, surely, Suranjan Das got his turn when World War II came around as he volunteered and was selected as a trainee pilot for the Royal Indian Air Force. He learnt to fly in Canada and was admitted into RIAF in 1943.
Suranjan Das joined the No.8 fighter bomber squadron and was remembered to be a bit ropey about close formation. His engineering talent was used to solve technical problems which the squadron’s tech team could not solve!!! ‘A man of many mysteries’ …….. Wasn’t he?
1949 was the watershed for the aviation industry in India. That was the time when Dr.VM. Ghatage started design work in Hindustan Aircraft Limited [HAL] on Hindustan Trainer – 2 [HT-2]. That was when the IAF felt a need for their two best test pilots to go to ETPS (in UK) so, Suranjan Das and Roshan Lal Suri were sent.
The IAF acquired Ouragans, named Toofani in India, from France. The first 75 dismantled aircraft were brought to Bombay. These were taken to an allotted area at Santa Cruz airfield, which was the home of the Aircraft Erection Unit (AEU) – the first such venture by IAF.
In 1953-54 this unit was commanded by Suranjan Das and proceeded to test each aircraft and clear it as it got ready. Other pilots of AEU who assisted in the flying effort remember the commander as fun loving and yet always managed to conduct the flight tests to be of the expected standards.
IAF then decided to go in for the Gnat, at the time Sqn.Ldr Das was attached to Follands at Chilbolton in England. During his term at Follands, Das took a very active part in the development of the aircraft. He also became the first Indian to demonstrate any aircraft at the Farnborough Air Show.
Once while practicing for the air show, he was doing an eight-point roll in the Gnat close to the ground. He then suddenly felt a restriction in the aileron control. His first reaction was to start talking on the radio. He asked the Air Traffic Control to ensure that his comments were recorded just in case he could not recover. He said that these could help prevent a recurrence of the problem. The Orpheus engine, which powered the Gnat, had a strong tendency to flame out due to surge at high altitudes and the associated low temperatures. This was a serious behavior to be addressed to immediately.
Suranjan Das was also responsible for the successful maiden flight of the HT-24 on 24th June 1961. This aircraft served IAF in the 1971 Bangladesh war.
Das out of his many test flying ventures in his tenure also did the first flight of the HJT-16 (Kiran) on September 4, 1964……….. This man’s astounding career came to a shocking end on 10th January 1970, because of a fatal crash of the HT-24, Mk 1R prototype.
The least which could be done was administered as the 1R prototype was also killed. Also, a road in Bangalore connecting HAL’s main Complex to the Engine Division also commemorates him. HAL instituted a trophy in his name for the best test pilot trainee graduating in India each year. He was also awarded the Padma Vibhushan posthumously.