Posted: Thu 9th Mar 2023

Chester model shop comes to the rescue of Indian Air Force hero’s family

News and Info from Deeside, Flintshire, North Wales
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Mar 9th, 2023

A heartwarming story has emerged from a small independent model shop in Chester after they received an unexpected enquiry all the way from Bangalore, South India.

Arun Swaminathan was on a mission to find a specific model plane in memory of his late uncle, Wing Commander Padmanabha Gautam, who was a highly decorated Indian Air Force pilot.

Paul Boyland, the owner of Chester Model Centre, described what he thought was going to be a standard exchange, but it “turned into much more” after they discovered the personal connection behind the search.

“The modelling community is global and we are really happy to help Arun get his hands on the Corgi model English Electric Canberra [No.16 Squadron, RAF Laarbruch, Germany, 1972] that his Uncle Gautam had flown,” Paul said.

According to Arun, Wing Commander Padmanabha Gautam was one of the most decorated Indian Air force officers who led many important missions during operations against Pakistan.

Paul Boyland, the owner of Chester Model Centre

Arun has written a biography of his uncle, and the model plane will be a treasured addition to his collection.

“I cannot tell you how grateful I am to you. This model means a lot to me especially as this English Electric Canberra has been etched in my heart after my Uncle Gautam, the Indian Air Force Canberra Ace, was killed in a crash on 25th Nov 1972,” said Arun.

“My father always wanted to take me to Poona with my Uncle Gautam so he could put me in the cockpit of every aircraft under his command. Unfortunately, my Uncle died before this trip happened.”

“When I miss him, I go and stand by the Canberra at the HAL Museum near my house in Bangalore.”

“I am writing his biography and your model will feature as my most treasured model in my vast collection.” Arun is hoping to make a trip to the UK in the future with a visit to Chester Model Centre on the top of his list of places to see.

Paul said the attention has prompted them to think bigger, and they are currently making arrangements to make international delivery available to their customers.

“We’re currently making arrangements to make international delivery available to our customers and hope to have this service up and running in the next few weeks. As a local independent shop, this opens up a big market for us!” he added.

“We launched our website during the first lockdown (Spring 2020) and are now active on social media. We’ve been contacted by customers from Australia, America, France, and Italy,” said Paul.”

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