Abhinandan Varthaman with Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa (Image: ANI)
Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot who became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan in February, on Monday flew a MiG 21 fighter jet with Air Chief Marshal B S Dhanoa. Varthaman started flying the MiG 21 about two weeks ago, nearly six months after sustaining injuries while ejecting from a fighter plane during an aerial combat between India and Pakistan on February 27.
On Monday, IAF Chief Dhanoa and Abhinandan took a sortie on the MiG 21 jet from the Pathankot air base, officials said.
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.
Varthaman was released on the night of March 1 by Pakistan. He was taken off flying duties because of his injuries. Varthaman was conferred the Vir Chakra, the coveted wartime gallantry medal, for downing the F-16 jet of Pakistan during the aerial combat. The Vir Chakra is the third highest gallantry award after the Paramvir Chakra and the Mahavir Chakra.
Howz the josh.... pic.twitter.com/onbVmgvDsX— Amandeep Singh (@journoaman) September 2, 2019
While people were happy to see Abhinandan back to flying, they were also noticed his new look without his iconic handlebar moustache.
He is no longer carrying famous Abhinandan cut moustache...— AnileshMahajan (@anileshmahajan) September 2, 2019
Wing Commander Abhinandan flies in a MiG 21 with Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa at Pathankot.— Vishal Maske (@MaskeSpeaks) September 2, 2019
The famous moustache is trimmed. pic.twitter.com/C4hULAB44O
His moustache has changed. His style and confidence hasn't! Long live Abhinandan ! You're a proud son of our motherland!— Viraj Kalkur (@virajkalkur) September 2, 2019
Abhinandan's moustache should be declared UNESCO world heritage site.— k i t t e n (@evilkitten_) September 2, 2019