Pathankot: Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot who became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan in February, flew a MiG 21 fighter jet at the Pathankot airbase along with Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa on Monday.
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.
“It was a pleasure for me to fly with Abhinandan because he has got his flying category back, that is what all pilots look forward to. I also ejected in 1988, it took me 9 months to get my category back. He has been back in less than 6 months,” Dhanoa told ANI.
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.
(With inputs from PTI)