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Kerala Kaumudi Online
Monday, 14 October 2019 1.23 PM IST

IAF hero Abhinandan Varthaman flies MiG 21 jet with IAF Chief in Pathankot

abinandan

PATHANKOT: 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 sortie with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa on a MiG 21 jet here. The 30-minute sortie came nearly six months after Varthaman sustained injuries while ejecting from a MiG 21 Bison during an aerial combat between India and Pakistan on February 27.


Varthaman returned to the fighter cockpit around two weeks ago after IAF's Bengaluru-based Institute of Aerospace Medicine gave him the go-ahead to fly again following a thorough medical evaluation. "It was an honour for me to fly with him," the IAF chief, who is set to retire on September 30, said after the sortie on the MiG 21 trainer aircraft.

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.

The IAF chief said he, too, ejected from a combat jet in 1988 and had to wait for nine months to return to the fighter cockpit."He (Varthaman) has got back his flying category in less than six months which is good," said Dhanoa, adding it was perhaps his last sortie on a fighter jet before retirement. As a young pilot, the Air Force chief flew the Mig 21 jet with Varthaman senior, Simhakutty Varthaman, who retired as an air marshal.

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

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TAGS: IAF PILOT, ABHINANDAN VARTHAMAN, MIG 21, PATHANKOT, INDIA, AIRFORCE, AIRFORCE CHIEF
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