Here’s something about the Galaxy Apartments ‘Khandaan’ of Bollywood that not many people know. It seems that our Padma Shri Salim Khan, 82, the legendary film screenwriter and father of Salman, Arbaaz, Sohail, Alvira and Arpita Khan, used to be a trained pilot back in the day when he was a young man in Indore. Memories of those high-flying days of Salim Khan came to the fore just now when his old friend, the former Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), Dr. Yashraj Tongia, visited the ageing Khandaan patriarch and tweeted pictures of them at Galaxy Apartments where they had lunch and a long chat.
Nothing unusual about that. Except, Salim Khan produced for Dr. Tongia’s benefit his old Private Pilot’s Licence that was issued to him on February 3, 1958, by the then DGCA P. S. Sanghavi in New Delhi. Salim Khan has preserved the license with as much pride and love as, perhaps, the original screenplay of Zanjeer which he co-wrote with Javed Akhtar in 1973 to launch Amitabh Bachchan’s career as the Angry Young Man. It turns out that Salim Khan, who was just 22 in 1958, was already a fully commissioned pilot then and used to flying the de Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth biplane of the 1930s which was used by flying clubs in India to offer trainee pilots flying lessons.
Speaking exclusively to PeepingMoon.com, Dr. Tongia revealed that among the many flying incidents that Salim Khan narrated to him was one hair-raising experience that he had in Indore where he was born and grew up. “This was in 1958 and Salim Uncle was flying a Tiger Moth when he found the single engine of the light aircraft sputtering alarmingly. He realised that the engine was failing and quickly turned the aircraft around. With much calmness and presence of mind, Salim Uncle force-landed the Tiger Moth safely. After that, he never took anybody up for a joy ride. But he still treasures his Private Pilot’s Licence that has long since expired.”