GpCapt Muhammad Ali, PAF

He was the only PAF fighter pilot who had the distinction of serving four different air forces of the world.

He had the singular honour to be part of the famous RAF ‘Blue Diamond’ aerobatic team.  He is also kept in very high esteem in Jordan owing to his remarkable services to its air force. He raised the Royal Jordanian Air force to a level where his trained fighter pilots shot down an Israeli fighter aircraft during Arab Israel Wars in 1964. He established and led the Jordan’s first flying aerobatic team ‘The Hashmite Diamonds’.  He was also the member of the PAF’s famous Falcon aerobatic team which mesmerized the world in 1958 by creating a world record of 16 Sabre aircraft formation loop.

He formed and led the unofficial Mirage V aerobatic team of Abu Dhabi air force. The list of his exploits is very long…….I am talking about none other than the legendary PAF fighter pilot, formation flying aerobatics maestro, the one and only WgCdrHameed Anwar. It is, however, very sad that we know very little about this forgotten son of the soil.

It is a mere coincidence or destiny has some role in it that thelegendary fighter pilot passed away in Jordan, in a brotherly country which loved and respected him the most. He was in transit at Jordan, while travelling from Pakistan to USA, when he died of heart attack on 19 April 2015. The sad news of his sudden demise came as a shock for the entire rank and files of Pakistan Air Force. It has been learnt that Jordanian govt is making necessary arrangements for transporting his eternal abode to Chicago, USA where he would be buried with full military honours.

I consider myself to be very lucky as I had the honour of meeting the legend face to face many a time during compilation of my book ‘Sentinels in the Sky’. The book contains a chapter about his heroic deeds. I still remember the first meeting with him held in Lahore while he was visiting Pakistan in 2013.  The moment I saw this gentleman I was enthralled by his captivating and stunning personality.

Tall, handsome and dashing Hameed Anwar was born in Lahore on 20 June 1934. After receiving primary education from Lawrence College Murree, he joined PAF as a flight cadet in 1953. Having mastered the flying on somewhat tricky ‘Havard’ trainer aircraft at Risalpur, he graduated with flying colours on 2 February 1954. As a young fighter pilot, he was lucky to be trained by the PAF’s finest fighter leaders of that time in the likes of the great FS Hussain and legendary ZafarMasud (affectionately known in PAF as MittiMasud). He spent his initial years as a fighter pilot serving the No 14 Squadron at Mauripur now Masroor. He together with his squadron mate and best friend, the ace MM Alam, flew air combat practice missions extensively. The two were long been friends and intense rivals, as all fighter pilots tend to be at young age. Later in careers, they both emerged as exceptional fighter pilots and were recognized in PAF for their absolute professional commitment, devotion and outstanding piloting skills. However, each had yet to make history in the challenges that lay ahead. One was destined to become the top PAF ace during 1965 War and the other would fly the national colourproudly to distant lands- first in Royal Air Force flying with ‘Blue Diamonds’ aerobatic team and then for many years with various Arab Air Forces.

Hameed Anwar (affectionately known in PAF and RAF as Harry Anwar) was the proud member of the famous PAF aerobatics team ‘The Falcons’. In 1958, the team while performing aerobatics on 16 Sabre aircraft pulled up a formation loop, thus making a world record in the history of aviation. From 1960 to 1962, Hameed Anwar was in RAF, as Pakistani pilot on exchange posting. During this time, he made the country proud by being selected as a member of famous ‘Blue Diamond’ aerobatic team. Being part of the aerobatics team, he flew all across Europe and NATO countries with Pakistani flag painted on the tail of his Hunter aircraft. Later in 2005, Hameed Anwar was honored during a reunion ceremony of ex- Blue Diamonds pilots held at Farnborough UK, where his name entered the Hall of Fame as one of the legendary pilots of the world. Indeed,  a great honour for Pakistan.

After retirement from PAF in 1964, he joined the Royal Jordanian Air Force (RJAF) as an instructor pilot. During his stay there, he earned respect from Jordanian pilots owing to his outstanding professionalism and commitment. One of his promising students of RJAF went on to become the Commander of Royal Jordanian Air Force. His Majesty King Hussein I of Jordan,being a pilot himself, was one of his great admirers. He always kept him in high esteem and regarded him as the founder of the modern Jordanian Air Force. He once wrote about him in his memoirs, “One of the best pilots and men I have been fortunate to know” On His Majesty’s desire, Hameed Anwar formed the famous ‘Hashmite Diamonds’ aerobatics team which was not only the Jordan’s first aerobatic team but also of the entire Arab world. The 9 ship Hunter aircraft formation aerobatic team toured across the entire Arab world and was regarded as one of the finest aerobatics teams of the world.

In 1965, when the Indo-Pak War broke out, Hameed Anwar was serving at Jordan. His love for the country and patriotism did not allow him to stay there for a minute and he volunteered to return to Pakistan and participated in the war alongside his old comrades. Such was the dedication and resolve of this great man for his motherland. He actively participated in the war and flew numerous air combat missions. After the war, he went back to Jordan and continued to serve there for long time.

After taking retirement from all sorts of flying duties, Hameed got settled in Chicago USA, where he lived for many years along with his wife Lilian and four adorable sons Haroon, Peter, Moses and Hussain (named after the King Hussain 1 of Jordan). During these years, he used to visit PAF and was always a source of inspiration for young and senior fighter pilots of Pakistan Air Force specially the Sherdil aerobatic team. In 2005, on the request of the Sherdil team members, he wrote a book on formation flying and aerobatics. The booklet has become a pocket book treasure of PAF’s Sherdil team members and is considered as the master piece.  

The great fighter pilot is gone, leaving behind exploits in air displays and aerobatics engraved with golden words in aviation history. Hameed Anwar represented the first generation of fighter pilots whose rich legacy has been emulated in spirit and action by the succeeding generation of fighter pilots around the world. It is for sure that the legacy of Harry Anwar would continue to live in the hearts of budding fighter pilots of PAF for the times to come.

May his Soul Rest in Peace, Aameen!