Welcome back Abhinandan Varthaman! India’s hero flies MiG-21 jet with IAF chief BS Dhanoa; watch video

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New Delhi | Published: September 2, 2019 2:43:52 PM

The exercise took place at Air Force Station in Pathankot today. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa and Abhinandan's flight took off around 11.30 am. It was a 30-minute long sortie.

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa and Abhinandan Varthaman (ANI image)

India’s hero IAF pilot Abhinandan Varthaman is back and flying high once again! Indian Air Force pilot Abhinandan Varthaman on Monday has flown a sortie in a MiG-21 jet along with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa. Varthaman, whose MiG 21 Bison destroyed an F-16 Falcon of Pakistan Air Force during a dogfight on February 27, was conferred the Vir Chakra ahead of Independence Day. Vir Chakra is India’s third-highest wartime gallantry medal. Indian Air Force Chief Dhanoa himself is a MiG-21 pilot and had flown the fighter aircraft during the 1999 Kargil war while commanding the 17 Squadron.

The exercise took place at Air Force Station in Pathankot today. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa and Abhinandan’s flight took off around 11.30 am. It was a 30-minute long sortie. Dhanoa said that it was a pleasure for him to fly with Abhinandan because the latter has got his flying category back. Dhanoa said that getting flying category back is what all pilots look forward to.

The IAF chief said that he ejected in 1988 and it took him 9 months to get his category back. Abhinandan has been back in less than 6 months. Dhanoa said both of them have two things in common – first, both of them ejected and secondly, both of them have fought Pakistanis. Dhanoa said he fought in Kargil, and Abhinandan fought after Balakot. Dhanoa said that he had flown with Abhinandan’s father. It’s an honour for me to do my last sortie in IAF, in a fighter aircraft, with his son, Dhanoa said.

Watch video

Indeed it is a red-letter day for Abhinandan, who had flown a MiG into Pakistan Occupied Kashmir (PoK) and was captured. His poise and grace during the interrogation by Pakistani defence personnel, won hearts. Subsequently, the 36-year-old was released on the night of March 1 and sent back to India. It was learnt that Varthaman had suffered injuries while ejecting from his MiG-21 Bison during the February 27 aerial combat.

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