IAF Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman flew a joint sortie with Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa in MiG-21 fighter on Monday (September 2). In today's sortie, the two took off in the MiG-21 trainer from Pathankot and flew for 30 minutes.

The Air Chief Marshal climbed onto the front seat while Wing Commander Abhinandan took the rear seat of the trainer jet after a pre-flight check, whose controls in the front are replicated in the back. Minutes later, the jet took off into the clear sky above Pathankot and did some manoeuvres.

Wing Commander Abhinandan returned to the fighter cockpit nearly six months after sustaining injuries while ejecting from a fighter plane during an aerial combat between India and Pakistan on February 27.

The 36-year-old IAF pilot 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 an F-16 fighter of Pakistan. Abhinandan was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan.

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He had sustained injuries while ejecting from his MiG 21 Bison during the aerial combat and was taken off flying duties because of it.

Abhinandan was conferred Vir Chakra, the coveted wartime gallantry medal, for downing the F-16 jet of Pakistan during the aerial combat. Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.