Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman was acclaimed by Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa for a quick comeback to flying duties after he ejected from his MiG-21 Bison in February. The chief took his last flight before his retirement in a two-seater MiG-21 trainer with Wing Commander Varthaman on Monday.
After landing, Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa said “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 nine months to get my category back. He has been back in less than six months.”
They landed after having a 30-minute flight above the skies of Pathankot Airbase in Punjab.
In February after India targeted a terror-training camp of Jaish-e-Mohammed in Balakot, across the Line of Control in an air-strike, Wing Commander Varthaman shot down an American-made F-16 fighter jet on February 27, during a dog battle near LoC (Line of Control). After which, the Wing Commander was captured by Pakistani Army Forced and deployed to India 3-days later on March 1.
He had suffered severe injuries after ejecting from his fighter jet and parachuting to safety. Pilot Varthaman went through a number of mental and physical evaluations since he was captured and released. An evaluation soon after his return from Pakistan found injuries to his ribs.
After getting recovery, he came back to the cockpit in less than six months. The Air Force’s Institute of Aerospace Medicine in Bengaluru gave permission to fly again after a thorough medical evaluation.
“This is my last sortie on a fighter jet. Both of us have two things in common – first, both of us ejected and second, both of us have fought Pakistanis. I fought in Kargil, he fought after Balakot. And third, I’ve flown with his father. It’s an honor for me to do my last sortie in the IAF, in a fighter aircraft, with his son,” the Air Chief Marshal said after landing.