Air chief flies MiG 21 with Abhinandan in Pathankot

Abhinandan, IAF, MiG
Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot who became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan in February, pose for a photograph after a sortie on the MiG 21 jet, at Airforce Station, Pathankot on Monday. Photo: PTI

Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa and Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot who became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan in February, on Monday flew a MiG 21 fighter jet here.

Varthaman started flying the MiG 21 about two weeks ago, nearly six months after sustaining injuries while ejecting from a fighter plane during an aerial combat between India and Pakistan on February 27.

On Monday, IAF Chief Dhanoa and Abhinandan took a sortie on the MiG 21 jet from the Pathankot air base, officials said.

The 36-year-old IAF pilot was captured by the Pakistani Army on February 27 after his MiG-21 Bison jet was shot down in a dogfight with Pakistani jets during aerial combat.

Before his jet was hit, he downed an F-16 fighter of Pakistan.

Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan. He was taken off flying duties because of his injuries.

Varthaman was conferred the Vir Chakra, the coveted wartime gallantry medal, for downing the F-16 jet of Pakistan during the aerial combat.

The Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.