New Delhi: He is going to retire soon while his co-pilot has resumed his flights. They share a common bonding: they both fought Pakistan and got ejected from their aircraft.
Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa, on Monday, took Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman under his wings, as he undertook his last combat sortie on a MiG-21 aircraft at the Pathankot airbase in Pubjab in what turned out to be a memorable 30-minute sortie for them.
After landing, the Air Chief expressed pleasure flying with Abhinandan who just returned as a MiG-21 instructor.
In February, Abhinandan exhibited exceptional bravery when he ejected MiG-21 after taking down an F-16 of Pakistan Air Force along the Indo-Pakistan border in Jammu and Kashmir in February this year. He was captured by Pakistan but later released under India’s diplomatic pressure. The Government has announced to confer on him the prestigious Veer Chakra for his bravery.
Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said he, too, got ejected in 1988. “It is a pleasure that Abhinandan has got his flying category back, something all pilots look forward to. After my ejection, it took me nine months to get my category back. But Abhinandan is back in less than six months.
“I fought in Kargil, he fought after Balakot,” the IAF chief added.
He said, “I have flown with his father, Simhakutty Varthaman. It is an honour for me to do my last sortie in the IAF, in a fighter aircraft, with his son.”
As a young pilot, the Air Force chief flew the MiG-21 jet with Abhinandan’s father, who later retired as Air Marshal.