Squadron Leader Steve P. Lall | Ace MiG 21 pilot, Rebel, Environmentalist, mountain biker and Tony Curtiss Look-alike.

Squadron Leader Steve P. Lall | Ace MiG 21 pilot, Rebel, Environmentalist, mountain biker and Tony Curtiss Look-alike.

Squadron Leader Steve P. Lall | Ace MiG 21 pilot, Rebel, Environmentalist, mountain biker and Tony Curtiss Look-alike.

Squadron Leader Steve Lall or as we call him in India “Uncle Steve” joined the Indian Air Force along with my old back in 1966. Not only were they course mates, there were entry mates at the time of enlisting and also fought the 1971 war together.

Steve was a born pilot, he was amongst the first bunch of guys who took charge of the MiG 21 when our Air force got them and in no time he mastered that aircraft. Steve was a kick-ass pilot and was too good at what he did which was air combat maneuvering or “dog-fighting” during the days when air defence was a critical strategy. Steve always stood for what was right no matter which class, creed, stature, race and caste he backed.

While he had admirers, he too had a bunch of guys who despised him because he was good and they tried their best to find an opportunity to screw him. No one could touch Steve when it came to flying, so the only way to get him out of their way was to create situations which made life hard for him.

And with this, Steve turned into a rebel, stretching the law, defying rules and every time he broke a law, he made that a milestone as he went along.

Steve, sometime in 1974 got into a situation in which he was court martialed from the air force and was made to leave. While the Air Force lost an outstanding pilot, this changed him. He took over his old man’s property called the Jilling Estate which more or less is two whole mountains in the Himalayas’, married a mountain girl and called the hills his home ever since.

Steve over the years learnt and realized the meaning of life and that meant finding happiness, peace, solace and serenity in the little that he had and made that his world. The mountains made Steve a whole new man and made him realize what it meant to live. He took up biking, became a nature and wildlife conservationist and got into eco-tourism by subletting cottages in the estate to the adventurous.

Today Steve owns 6 bikes, selectively gives his place up in the hills on rent, bikes across the whole of India and derives happiness at every single step of the way, or hairpin turn on the mountains.

Steve and my old man were close and some of the stuff they did back in the old days I’d personally never ever think of trying even today.

Some of the wacked out stuff that Steve did back in the day were:

• Taking his dog Kanchi (a wire haired Dachund) up for a sortie in a Mig 21; he had Air Force Sergeant Unni make a special harness that strapped Kanchi to his G-suit and took her for 1 sortie below 10,000 ft and did a few high speed passes across the tower.

• After a binging session in the Air Force Mess and Club, Steve and a few folks decided to drive a steam roller back home and during the way, decided to say a quick ‘hello’ to the station commanding officer. Steve, while being an outstanding pilot, miscalculated the turn ability of the steam roller and flattened the commanding officers front gate, lawn and porch.

• Steve and my old man created a band in the air force and in the day, many a damsel swore that Steve looked like Tony Curtiss, my old man looked by Charles Bronson and another lad they had on the drums resembled Dean Martin. Steve was awesome with the Trumpet but being short-tempered, when he did not get the right note he wanted, he threw the German made trumpet on the floor and stamped it on the stage.

• The station Steve was posted in came out with a rule that dogs were to be leashed always at the station(!) so Steve to defy the rule, took Kanchi his dog, on top of his Harley Davidson he had, wore his swimming trunks and rode his bike straight into the swimming pool. That pretty much ended the rule.(!!).

If there’s anyone who at any age wants to learn and know the true meaning of life and that too with biking maintenance techniques thrown in, and aint that crazy in the mind to take up smoking weed at 35 or joining the sex oozing Osho Ashram, I recommend spending a week with Steve.

To know more about an outstanding human being called Steve Lall, visit www.jilling.net

Posted by Mark D. Martin India on 2009-04-26 17:53:54

Tagged: , Steve , Lall , Indian , air force , Mig , 21 , 1971 , India-Pakistan War , Kanchi , jilling , Estate , Matial , Mountains , Himalayas , biking , Enfield , peace , life , solace , rebel , tony Curtis , David , Martin

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