INAS 550 – The Flying Fish
The oldest squadron of the Indian Navy, this was the unit where Naval Aviation was born, where it all began, and from where it grew and spread its wings to touch the skies. The Navy’s first Fleet Requirement Unit (FRU) comprising of two Sealands and manned by five pilots and two observers was commissioned on 11 May 1953 at Venduruthy II, Kochi. Lt Cdr YN Singh was the commissioning Squadron Commander. The FRU was recommissioned as INAS 550 on 15 Jun 59 under the command of Lt Cdr YN Singh.
In Feb 54, the squadron acquired two Firefly aircraft. The squadron had its first moment of glory on 21 Apr 54 when six aircraft, in batches of two, escorted SS Gothic from Colombo to Aden with Her Highness, Queen Elizabeth onboard. In Oct 56, HT-2 aircraft were inducted and the squadron was split up into INAS 550 A (Naval Jet Flt) at Sulur and the INAS 550-B Flt at Kochi.
In 1976, the squadron was equipped with Islander aircraft and HPT-32 aircraft were inducted in Jan 86. In Oct 87, the squadron completed basic flying training on the HPT-32 for the first batch of 06 naval pilots. However, the practice was discontinued and the squadron ceased further basic flying training on the HPTs. Dec 1987 also saw the squadron being tasked for sorties in support of the IPKF operations in Sri Lanka.
Through the late eighties and the nineties the squadron did extensive flying towards Observer training, maritime reconnaissance and patrol missions. In the late nineties a few of the piston-engine Britton Norman Islander (BN 2B) aircraft were upgraded to turbo-prop engines (BN 2T), and the squadron also acquired its first Dornier aircraft. The present day 550 continues to be a squadron that puts in extensive flying effort towards maritime reconnaissance, patrol and Observer training.