Indian Air Force (IAF) Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew a MiG-21 sortie along with Air Chief Marshal Birendar Singh Dhanoa on Monday afternoon. The two officers took off from the Pathankot airbase in Punjab. Last week, Abhinandan resumed flying operations after getting medical clearances, sources said. It's the last sortie piloted by Air Chief BS Dhanoa in a fighter aircraft before his retirement. After the successful 30 minute flight, Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa spoke about flying the last sortie with Abhinandan Varthaman and said that 'we both have fought Pakistanis'. He also recalled his time with Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman's father.
#WATCH IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa flew a sortie with Wg Cdr Abhinandan Varthaman at Air Force Station Pathankot today in a MiG-21 trainer. It's the last sortie flown by IAF Chief in a fighter aircraft before retirement.They took off around 1130 hrs for a 30 min sortie. pic.twitter.com/retSoI3EVl— ANI (@ANI) September 2, 2019
Speaking of the Wing Commander's sortie, Former Air Vice-Chief Marshal Pranab Kumar Barbora stated that 'it is the man behind the machine, and not the fighter jet' in terms of deliverance. Air Marshal Padamjit Singh Ahluwalia also spoke about setting 'good morale' for others and 'good showing of professionalism' during his capture. Indian Air Chief Marshal Fali Homi Major congratulated Wing Commander Abhinandan and Air Chief BS Dhanoa on their flight stating that it was delightful to see both the officers and wished them 'happy landings and sortie'.
Wing Commander Abhinandan was facilitated with the Vir Chakra on Independence Day by the President, for his "unflinching and unwavering courage in the wake of his capture". The Vir Chakra award is the third-highest wartime gallantry medal. President Ram Nath Kovind had lauded his act of bravery while he was captured by the Pakistani army after he crash-landed into Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) territory.
IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan was captured by the Pakistani Army after engaging in an aerial dogfight, when his MiG-21 Bison was shot down by enemy forces. Notably, he also shot down a Pakistani F-16 in the process. Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had also flown the MiG-21 sortie in 1991 Kargil war while commanding 17 squadrons during the war. He was released after 48 hours on March 1. While in custody, he showed immense courage and calm at the time of his capture in the neighbouring country.