Abhinandan Varthaman starts flying MiG 21

Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman, the IAF pilot who became the face of a tense military confrontation between India and Pakistan in February, has started flying MiG 21 jet again.

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.

"He has started flying," said a top military official. At present, Abhinandan is serving at an IAF base in Rajasthan.

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. 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.