My name is Ayan Haider Zaidi. I’ve been recommended from 4 AFSB Varanasi for Flying Branch in IAF and I’ve cleared CPSS test and medicals as well.

Let me confess that I met the right mentor at the right time. This is what I felt when I met Group Captain Puneet Sharma (Retd) Sir.

Becoming a fighter pilot in IAF was my dream since I was 13. Though I couldn’t qualify for RIMC at that time I got to know something about The National Defence Academy from my uncle.

As nobody in my family is in defence forces, so I had no one to guide me at home.

I thought that the internet would do so but to my dismay I found it to be full of somewhat right and the majority of wrong information, which resulted in my non-recommendation in my first attempt.

This was my last attempt to join NDA and therefore I put in my 100% in written exam and did fairly well.

Soon after that I came to SSBOGC Dehradun and met my Mentor Gp Capt Puneet Sharma. The first thing I learnt after coming here was to accept myself.

Yes, to accept because all the time I considered myself not fully fit for the Armed forces.  Gp Capt Mukherjee Sir and Gp Capt Puneet Sharma Sir helped me to clear this wrong perception.

They also helped me in restoring faith in my own abilities and to accept myself. It is at SSBOGC that I learnt the importance of deep introspection, mental preparation and also of doing objective evaluation and audit of one’s past life history.

Gradually, I started making conscious efforts to align myself with the kind of attitude and behaviour we need to succeed at the SSB.

Now I will talk about what I learnt at SSBOGC in individual techniques.

How I got recommended from 4 AFSB Varanasi for Flying Branch in IAF?

Psychology tests

First thing, in psychology tests the general tendency amongst candidates is to asses ourselves as regard to what we have written, and that’s the biggest mistake. To be precise and short.


The second thing is the lack of details in our TAT and WAT responses. Reading books, newspapers and GK magazines + introspection, remembering the constructive, challenging things I’ve done in my past helped me improve in giving a detailed account of happenings in the situation. This I believe helped me a lot.

For SRT I removed all kind of defence mechanisms from my thoughts and my reactions automatically become good.

For SD I asked my friends, parents and teachers for their opinions about me and organised them in paragraph form and learnt it.

Personal Interview

What I learnt here is


Other things you should know WHAT/ WHEN/ WHY/ HOW you have done things in your past life.

You should be able to prove that you are motivated and will take 100% out of the training you’re given.

Present yourself as someone who is well-meaning and a mature person who can adjust and mix around with people well.

You also need to develop a good body language while you convey your responses and reactions.

Ground Tasks

Here the unique thing that I’ve learnt from Puneet Sir is the importance of “BODY LANGUAGE”.

Yes, it conveys a lot in GT. For example, there could be two ways of passing the plank to your group-mate, I could do it with a strong grip and cooperative look on my face or I could throw it at him just to show cooperation with an arrogant look on my face.

The difference you can make out so can the GTO. I’ve drastically improved on my body language with the help of Puneet Sir.

Another thing is analysing each and every structure before actually jumping in the middle of it and shouting unnecessarily, while actually you don’t have any plan.

10-15 seconds of careful look at any structure always gave me ideas. I solved each and every obstacle at SSBOGC which helped me learn new ideas and build confidence.

Now I will talk about my SSB experience.


It was my last attempt, so as expected my chest number was last, 93. We were shown a picture where 2 boys and 2 girls were standing close and discussing something.

I made a story around the picnic and clicking pictures. I narrated my story without stammering even a single time. In the GD we were 18 and it was a pro repeaters group, everyone was shouting at the top of their voice, but I maintained a good body language and facial expression without questioning anyone I gave my ideas with logical arguments.

For example, why I considered them friends? Because they were standing very close and that won’t happen with strangers.

I did not shout but made sure that at least I’m audible to three assessors. 56 candidates got screened in including me. My fresh Chest No. was 56.

Psychology tests

I went to sleep for 1 hour after the screening test got over. After that, I kept the things I mentioned above in my mind.

Initially, my heartbeats were quite fast as the test started, gradually I relaxed and did not feel stressed.

My TAT went exceptionally well because ideas were flowing from my mind and that further boosted my confidence. I did 54 WAT and 43 SRT. Wrote my SD which I had prepared and learnt by heart.

Although my handwriting is bad. I made sure that there was not even a single overwriting or cutting in my booklet.

Personal Interview

It was a roller coaster ride for me. My IO was President of the Board. I was very happy at this because I was going to talk to an Air Commodore.

As I entered his well-decorated room with aircraft pictures and models, my stress went away with his welcoming smile and handshake.

My interview didn’t start so well, I missed the questions and sequence of the rapid-fire questions and gave a confusing answer to the question “Why I want to join the IAF?” Nevertheless, as the interview progressed, he asked me about my hobbies.

As one of my HOBBIES is to read and do research about military aviation. He asked me which plane I’ll first fly at AFA.

I answered PC7. Then there was a picture of PC7 in his room and he asked me to identify it.

I did it within a second. Then he asked me to identify all aircraft and I did it with 100% accuracy and correct sequence which I think had a positive impact on the IO.

The last aircraft was MiG 23, he asked me about its speciality and I did explain to him about that.

This was the turning point in my interview and that’s how I perhaps proved him my motivation.

The interview went on for 40 minutes approx and minutes after that he said something which I’ll never forget ” Ayan don’t get discouraged if you don’t get recommended here.”

“With your level of motivation I can make out you’ll excel in any career.”

This made me nervous and happy at the same time.

Ground Tasks

I was pretty excited about it! As we entered the GD room, we were given the topics. I maintained my composure, gave logical points and presented them in good English.

In GPE I kept in mind whatever Sir had taught us. I kept these things in mind as we were guided to and wrote a good solution within the given time.

In PGT I was the one who gave all the solutions in all four obstacles and it was such fun because my training at SSBOGC made me confident and logical in my approach.

I made sure that I’m helping others and listening to them also and encourage them to participate. Same I did in HGT too.

In Command Task I was called 2 times in a group of 7. And I was called last for the task. GTO sir increased the difficulty of my task 4 times and I solved it every time.

I made sure that I was the one who is working throughout and not my helpers. I took help from them only when it was unavoidable.

My lecturette went only for 1 and a half minute, but whatever I said it was very clear, with a positive tone and confident look and voice.

I was able to do 11 individual obstacles as I was running and doing exercises for last 4 months regularly.


I entered the conference room and said: “Good Afternoon Sir” looking at the Board President. I was asked by IO as to “what I have learnt here?“, I said “8 ball pool“. Then “any suggestions,” I said “No sir” after that they said “you may leave” and I came out. My conference went for around 30 seconds.


My heartbeats were in rpm rather than bpm I would say. The recommended chest numbers were called on one by one, as DSO paused at 45 and said next chest number is 56, I jumped and ran to the stage.

When I turned back, I saw so many disappointed faces and it made me recall my last SSB result. I stopped smiling and celebrated only when we were sent out of the hall.

In the end, I would say I give 100% credit of my success of SSB to Puneet sir and Mukharjee sir. Without their support realization of my very long cherished dream might not have been possible.



Group captain Puneet Sharma's SSB Orientation and grooming classes (SSBOGC) Dehradun is one academy which focuses on orientation and grooming the candidates and makes them better prepared to face the SSB by remaining their original self.