18th March marks the death anniversary of Air Commodore Muhammad Mahmood Alam, who passed away in 2013. Better recognized as “M. M. Alam”, he is popularly considered a national hero in Pakistan for the skill and valour displayed by him during the Indo-Pakistani war of September 1965. Alam is attributed to have shot down 9 enemy aircraft, including five Hawker Hunter aircraft, on one sortie, while piloting an F-86 Sabre flying ace. He was thus awarded the Sitara-e-Jurat (‘star of courage’), the nation’s third highest military award, and Bar for his commendable performance.

According to the Pakistan Airforce records, Alam downed the five aircraft within sixty seconds, with the first four downed within thirty, thus establishing a world record. Regarding this, he stated: “before we had completed more than about 270 degrees of the turn, at around 12 degrees per second, all four Hunters had been shot down”. Alam also attributed the actions of the day to “a spiritual force coming from the sky”.

AC Muhammad Mehmood Alam has since been widely held in high honour by the Pakistani state and citizens. The popular M. M. Alam road in Lahore is named after him, while the PAF Airbase Mianwali was renamed in his memorial at his passing in 2013.