Former Air Chief Lafontaine dead, Prez calls him man of innovations

He was 82 and is survived by his wife and three daughters. Lafontaine headed the Indian Air Force(IAF) for three years from July 1985.

President Pratibha Patil condoled the death of Lafontaine, calling him a man of "new thinking" and "innovations". Lafontaine was cremated in his native village in the evening.

In her condolence message to Lafontaine's wife, Patil said he oversaw major inductions in the IAF.

"A fighter pilot, his tenure at the helm saw major type inductions in the IAF, including the Dassault Mirage-2000 and MiG-29. Air Chief Marshal La' Fontaine was known for his innovations and new thinking that led to improvement in the quality of training of pilots in the IAF.

"One of the first pilots of the IAF to fly jet fighter, his various assignments gave him a variety of experiences that he used well while heading the IAF from July 1985 to July 1988," Patil said.

Lafontaine was born in Chennai on September 17, 1929. His grandfather as well as his father had served in the Indian Army.

He joined IAF as a fighter pilot in 1950 and rose in to become its 13th Chief in July 1985.

He was awarded the Vayu Sena Medal (VSM), Ati-Vishisht Seval Medal and Param-Vishisht Seva Medal during his illustrious career.

Lafontaine had been staying at his home near Brahmanapalli village in Medak district since his retirement.

Medak district Collector S Suresh Kumar laid a wreath on Lafontaine's body on behalf of AP government and paid homage.

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