INS Garuda has become the `cradle of naval aviation'. Every pilot observer, aviation technical officer and sailor undergoes professional training at this establishment. From a simple beginning in 1953, Garuda has spread its wings with over 150 officers and 1700 sailors borne in its books. Amidst the lush green coconut groves and cool backwaters of Kerala, the 'cradle' swings gently and hidden beneath the veneer of this gentleness lies the firm determination of these officers and men to surmount all difficulties and meet any challenge.
The air station comprises squadrons and training schools. The Observer School trains observers for both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft. The Indian Naval Air Squadron (INAS) 550 comprising Islander and Dornier aircraft trains pilots and observers in maritime reconnaissance, patrol, evacuation and search and rescue (SAR) missions. INAS 336 is the Sea King training squadron and was commissioned in December 1994. The Sea King Flight and Tactical Simulator (FATS) provides extensive simulator-based training to crew of Sea King helicopters. The 321 Garuda flight gives SAR cover and trains aircrew divers. School for Naval Airman (SFNA) and Naval Institute of Aviation Technology (NIAT) impart theoretical training to personnel of naval aviation and those associated with flying operations.
The history of INS Garuda dates back to the early days of second world war when Kochi airfield was built in 1941 mainly to set up a Royal Air Force (RAF) experimental station. This experimental station in the form of IAFVR no. 5 Coastal Defence Flight consisting of Wapiti II was established in May 1941. The flight was later disbanded in December 1942 when the Royal Navy commissioned a Royal Navy aircraft repair yard called HMS Garuda at Peelamedu in Tamil Nadu. To enable assembling and ferrying out of Royal Navy aircraft, shipped to India, to its parent unit at Peelamedug, a Royal Naval air station was set up at Kochi in 1943. That is how Garuda was used for the first time for naval purposes. HMS Garuda was decommissioned in September 1946.
On May 11, 1953, the Naval air station INS Venduruthy - II was formally commissioned as INS Garuda with Cdr G Douglas, the seniormost Indian naval aviator at that time, as its first Commading Officer. It was one of the most important days in the Indian Navy since it marked the beginning of naval aviation. Garuda has grown over the years and today it holds the responsibility of training pilots, observers and other personnel (both technical and non-technical) for flying, maintenance and inspection facilities in support of naval aviation.
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