Wings of Fire is an autography of APJ Abdul Kalam covering his early life and his work in Indian space research and missile programs. It is the story of a boy from a humble background who went on to become a key player in Indian space research/Indian missile programs and later became the president of India.
“Wings of Fire” is the life story of Dr. Avul Pakir Jainulabdeen Abdul Kalam, the 11th President of India. A notable scientist and an engineer, Dr. Kalam is often referred to as the Missile Man of India. He played a key role in developing India’s first and indigenously made: ballistic missiles, hovercraft, Nuclear-strike capable missiles and made immense contribution to the Guided Missiles Development programme and variousISRO projects.
Dr. Kalam was born at Rameswaram in Dhanushkodi, Tamil Nadu, to a working class Tamil Muslim family. He received his degree in aeronautical engineering from the Madras Institute of Technology in 1958.
He joined India’s Defense Research and Development Organization (DRDO) upon graduation to work on a hovercraft project. In 1962, Dr. Kalam moved to the Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO), where his team successfully launched several satellites. He made a significant contribution as Project Director to develop India’s first indigenous Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV-III) which successfully placed the Rohini satellite into near earth orbit in July 1980.
In 1982, Kalam returned to the DRDO as Director, focusing on Indigenous guided missiles. He was responsible for the development and operational success of the Agni and Prithvi missiles. This earned him the sobriquet “India’s missile-man”. He also helped in the formulation of healthcare products using technology developed for missiles.
In July 1992, Kalam became a Scientific Advisor to India’s Defense Minister. As the Principal Scientific Advisor to the Indian government, he held the rank of a Cabinet Minister. His work led to the successful Pokhran-II nuclear tests in 1998, which reiterated India’s position as a nuclear weapon state. Kalam was also the Chairman, Ex-officio, of the Scientific Advisory Committee to the Cabinet (SAC-C) and piloted the “India Millennium Mission 2020”. (Short summary picked from wikipedia)
Kalam has the unique distinction of having received honorary doctorates from at least thirty universities, as also India’s three highest civilian honors: the Padma Bhushan in 1981; the Padma Vibhushan in 1990; and the Bharat Ratna in 1997.
In this book, Dr. Kalam has described the various projects he undertook and shows how a person can manage a large team of experts without any formal knowledge in project management and team dynamics. He never fails to acknowledge his co-workers, team members and others of importance, throughout the book. The book is dotted with snippets of poetry and hymns that Dr. Kalam is fond of and has collected over his life time.
Dr. Kalam is one of the few Indian scientists who had the opportunity to work with Indian space research stalwarts like Dr. Vikram Sarabhai and interact with pioneers of missile technology likeWernher Von Braun.