The history of the Air Force Medical services began with the induction of three emergency commission Indian Medical Service (Army) officers and seven medical assistants into the newly formed IAF medical branch in January 1941. The integration of the Armed Forces Medical Services after independence was complete with the assuming of office by Lt Gen KS Master, the First DGAFMS, in April 1949.
The need for aeromedical support to the aircrew was recognised in 1942, when modern aircraft of the RAF and Allied Air Forces were inducted in the Indian Air space for the first time. By 1944, a comprehensive training programme was implemented by the IAF Medical branch for its medical officers and medical assistants. New aeromedical units were created and simulators added, to meet the requirements of the growing Air Force.
In October 1952, the Air Force Medical officers stationed in Delhi area formed the Aero Medical Society. The guiding light and architect of the society was Wg Cdr Ajit Nath , DDMS Air Headquarters. Following objectives were laid down :
- To advance the science and art of Aviation Medicine
- To establish and maintain co-operation between medical and other sciences concerned with aeromedical development and progress.
- To promote, protect and maintain safety in Aviation.
Over the years the membership, scope and functions of the Society have advanced and today it can boast of over 850 members from the Air Force, Army, Navy, Civil Aviation, Scientists from DRDO, civil doctors, Bio-medical engineers and members from abroad. Aerospace Medicine being multi-disciplinary, requires integration of not only the biological sciences such as physiology, psychology, and clinical medicine but also requires direct help from basic sciences such as physics, chemistry, mathematics and engineering. With this end in view, the society has been establishing symbiotic relationships with Institutes of repute working in these allied fields.
The first meeting of the Society was held on 22nd and 23rd January 1954, in a small cinema hall near Air Headquarters, New Delhi. Group Captain P.P.Chowdhury, DMS (Air) was elected the founder President and Squadron Leader S.D.Basu the Honorary Secretary. Air Marshal G.E.Gibbs, CAS declared open the first meeting of the Society. On 01 Apr 1954, Air Mshl Subroto Mukerjee became the patron of the Society. On 21 Feb 1959,the Society held its first major meeting at Vigyan Bhawan, New Delhi. It was a proud moment for the Society when Prof. J.B.S. Haldane delivered the Keynote Address. On 15 Apr 1965, the Aeromedical Society was registered under the Societies of Registration Act. In the year 1967 the journal of the society was named as “Journal of Aeromedical Society of India” which in 1975 was renamed as “Journal of Aviation Medicine”.
As a gesture of appreciation and gratitude the Society in 1971 instituted an Oration in the name of Air Marshal Subroto Mukerjee to be delivered during the inaugural function of the annual meeting of the Society.
The year 1984 saw the Institute of Aviation Medicine entering the space age with selection of Sqn Ldr Rakesh Sharma and Wg Cdr Raveesh Malhotra as cosmonaut trainees for the Joint Indo-Soviet Space Mission which culminated in an 8 day near Earth orbit space flight. Sqn Ldr Rakesh Sharma became the first Indian in Space. Eventually in 1987 keeping in view the growing prowess in space foray, the Society was renamed "Indian Society of Aerospace Medicine." Subsequently in 1988 the Journal was renamed "Indian Journal of Aerospace Medicine." The Society grew by leaps and bounds achieving the objectives laid down in 1952. In the year 1994 Society hosted the 42nd meeting of "International Congress on Aviation and Space Medicine” (ICASM) in New Delhi from 25th to 29th Sep. Prof. JS Bajaj, Member Planning Commission, delivered Dr André Allard oration. In the year 2007, Air Vice Marshal MM Srinagesh Memorial oration was started in memory of AVM MM Srinagesh who is considered as the Father of Aviation Medicine in India. The Society saw the conduct of the golden jubilee conference from 19 Nov to 21st Nov 2010. The event was a reminiscence of great effort by the visionaries who had giving philip to the speciality to scale new heights of glory.
The Society had the honor to host the ICASM subsequently in the year 2006 at Bangalore and later in 2016 at New Delhi. All three International Congresses hosted by the Society were attended by many dignitaries from the field of Aerospace Medicine across the world and were appreciated by all the delegates. The successful conduct of International Congresses had brought laurels to the Society and to the Nation as well.
Over six decades the society has kept pace with the Aeromedical requirements of the aviators and continuing to conduct scientific research for advancements in this ever expanding field. Members of the Society thus contribute to the operational effectiveness and flight safety in the highest traditions of good medical practice.