Soon after the sortie, BS Dhanoa expressed jubilance that Abhinandan was able to fly within six months of being ejected from a fighter jet saying that it is what all pilots look forward to.
Recently awarded the Vir Chakra for shooting down a Pakistan fighter jet in a dogfight, Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew a joint sortie with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa in MiG-21 fighter on Monday. The sortie was flown from Pathankot airbase, which is the front-line fighter base and home to the 26 Squadron of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
“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,” BS Dhanoa said soon after the sortie.
A senior IAF officer was quoted by IANS news outlet as saying that the sortie lasted for around half-an-hour and was conducted on a trainer MiG-21 aircraft.
Abhinandan had been taken captive by Pakistan after being shot down over Pakistan-occupied Kashmir in a dogfight which came in response to the Pulwama terror attack. The pilot was released two days after his capture, which de-escalated tensions between India and Pakistan.
Abhinandan had been flying a MiG-21 when the attack took place. It was reported last month that Varthaman has started flying after being granted a medical clearance. He had sustained injuries while ejecting from the fighter jet. He is currently posted at a Mi-21 Bison airbase in the western desert.
The Indian Air Force Chief BS Dhanoa is also a MiG-21 pilot and had flown the planes during the 1999 Kargil war while commanding the 17 Squadron, during the war. This was Dhanoa’s last sortie.