After resuming flying operations on August 26, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman will fly with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa in Pathankot on 3 September 2019, as per sources. Previously on Monday, Abhinandan had resumed flying operations, sources said. The officer has started flying after medical clearance, IAF officials said. The officer is posted at a MiG-21 Bison airbase in the western desert.
Abhinandan who displayed extreme valour after shooting down a modern Pakistani F16 jet during the Indo-Pak air skirmish a day after the February 26 Balakot airstrike, was captured by Pakistan. He spent days in Pakistan's custody when his MiG-21 aircraft was shot down by the Pakistan Army. He was released on March 1, 2019, by the Pakistan forces and was formally escorted into India at the Wagah Border. This was done as per the Geneva Convention agreement.
Honouring Abhinandan's bravery, the President's office issued an order that the national hero will be conferred the Vir Chakra on Independence Day. The Vir Chakra is India's third-highest wartime gallantry medal. Varthaman's award was announced by the defence ministry while reading out the military awards during the Independence Day celebrations. President Ram Nath Kovind lauded his act of bravery and gallantry on the battlefield while he was captured by the Pakistani Army after shooting down a Pakistani jet and crash landing inside Pakistan occupied Kashmir (PoK) territory.
In the high-altitude dogfight that ensued, flying a 1960s aircraft, Wing Commander Abhinandan used his close-combat R73 missile to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 - an unheard-of feat. He was released by Pakistan after 48 hours on March 1. While he was in Pakistan custody, he showed extreme courage and grace in handling the most difficult circumstances in the neighbouring country. Varthaman 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 a more technologically advanced F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.