After completing his school in 1957 he joined the Govt College Lahore on the sportsman quota. One of those days when his parents were away for Hajj, he applied for the PAF. Not surprisingly, he qualified the initial tests with ease and was asked to proceed to ISSB. His school time friend Lanky Ahsan, who was also trying for the ISSB, motivated him for joining the PAF. Brilliant Farooq passed the ISSB with ease, and when he was all set to go; his parents came to know about his secret adventures. He was admonished initially by his father, but later realising the passion of his young son he let him go with a condition. “Son, you have to top the course” he said, while saying ‘khuda hafiz’ to him at the railway station. Spirited Farooq boarded the train for Risalpur. Future comrades like great Cecil Chaudhry and Farooq Haider were all in the same train. Reception at Risalpur was traditional.
AVM Farooq winning Sword of Honor
AVM Farooq winning Best Pilot Trophy
AVM Farooq winning Academic Trophy
Keeping in mind the challenge thrown by his father, Farooq worked hard and sailed through the training at Risalpur. He topped the first term and then never looked back. He cleared the flying aptitude test with ease and progressed well, later in primary flying training. In those days, flying the tricky Harvard was considered a challenge for the young flight cadets but not for determined Farooq. He was lucky to have exceptional instructors like Saad Hatmi and Ali Imam Bukhari, who helped him learn the tricks of the trade in no time. He was promoted as wing under officer in the final term and was made the parade commander on the final graduation day. 26 June 1960 was the historic day in the career of Farooq. On this memorable day he earned a rare feat by winning the triple honours i.e. Sword of Honour, Best Pilot’s Trophy and the Academics Trophy all in one go. He made his family proud and thus succeeded in keeping his promise made earlier with his father. On return from Risalpur, his father awarded him with Rs 1000/- for his brilliant performance (which today is equal to
500,000/Rs). He subsequently joined the No 2 jet conversion squadron at Mauripur for conversion. He did his solo on the T-33 in record ten hours and got 80% in his solo check, indeed a rare honour for the promising young officer. At the graduation of no-2 sqn he again won the Jet Conversion and all round best Trophy from Air Marshal Rahim Khan then Base commander Mauri Pur in 1961.
On completion of jet training in 1961, Farooq joined the elite No 5 squadron as an operational fighter pilot. The squadron at that time was equipped with Sabre aircraft. With the arrival of modern F-104 Star Fighters in PAF, Farooq was selected to join the elite group of fighter pilots flying the latest weapon system. He joined the elite No 9 squadron in 1962 with Air Chief Marshal Jamal A Khan as the squadron commander.
The year 1964 brought another laurel in the promising career of young Farooq. He was handpicked by AM Asghar Khan, the Commander-in-Chief, to become his ADC. He discharged his duties with full devotion and learnt a great deal from the legendary commander. At that time in the entire PAF there was only one ADC and that was ADC to CNC not like today where AOC’s and PSO’s all have ADC’s .