Wednesday, July 20, 2011

'Air House' Coffee Table Book Released

Encapsulating the rich legacy of a house whose illustrious residents have shaped the contours of the Indian Air Force (IAF), Marshal of the Air Force (MIAF) Arjan Singh released a coffee table book on ‘Air House’, the official residence of the Chief of Air Staff (CAS) titled – “Air House….Down the Years” -- at 23, Akbar Road in New Delhi, on July 19, 2011.

The coffee table book was released by MIAF in the presence of Air Chief Marshal PV Naik, few former Air Chiefs, family members of former Air Chiefs, CAS Designate, Air Marshal NAK Browne and other senior IAF officials.

In keeping with the abiding interest in preserving institutional history and heritage, Air Chief Marshal PV Naik mandated a project to encapsulate the rich legacy of ‘Air House’ in a coffee-table book format. The bricks and mortar of Air House tell two stories concurrently; one related to the enduring vision of the architects, and the other, of the human saga of the illustrious residents.

MIAF Arjan Singh recalled his first visit in January 1945, on returning as a war hero from the Second Burma Campaign in World War II. At the time, the Air Officer Commanding Royal Indian Air Force, Air Vice Marshal Meredith Thomas lived here.

Since inauguration of the Capital City of New Delhi, as far back as February 1931, airmen have always lived at 23, Akbar Road, as part of the British South East Asia Command, stated the Marshal.

The project is not just a book about a house; it is also about a home, and the people who have shaped the contours of the Indian Air Force, one of the finest air forces in the world. As such, it essentially revolves around fond memories and reminiscences of the Chiefs of Air Staff, former and incumbent, and their families.

Photographic memorabilia from the families that lived at Air House, archival repositories at the Ministry of Defence, Air HQ (Vayu Bhavan) and the National Archives are included in the book that make it a truly collector’s book.

Together with a bouquet of contemporary day and night photographs, emerges a rich kaleidoscope of the times and events from the early years post-Independence to present times. The literature also veritably encompasses the rich heritage of Air House for posterity.

Second photo : File image of Air Marshal Sir Thomas Walker Elmhirst KBE CB CBE AFC Commander-in-Chief (15 Aug 1947 – 22 Feb 1950) and family at Air House in Feb '49. (From the archives)

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