On Thursday, Indian Air Force chief BS Dhanoa flew solo in a Mig-21 fighter jet, the oldest fighter aircraft in the IAF’s inventory. Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa flew the Mig-21 Type 96 aircraft from the IAF base at Uttarlai, a forward base in Rajasthan, where he began a three-day visit, his first to a forward operational base as the IAF chief. The IAF chief’s flight in the aircraft, which became infamous as ‘flying coffins’, lasted about half an hour. Here’s a list of some more such notable flights.
In the June of 2006, clad in a G-suit, former president of India Dr APJ Abdul Kalam stepped into a Sukhoi-30 fighter plane at the Lohegaon Air Base. Kalam became the first president to fly a fighter plane on his own. Wing Commander Ajay Rathore, commanding officer of the SU-30 squadron, piloted the jet as it soared to a height of 25,000 feet (about 7.5 km), and Kalam took the controls for 3 minutes in the 36-minute long flight. The late president came out beaming from the aircraft and said that his “childhood dream” had been fulfilled.
Rajiv Pratap Rudy
Skill Development Minister Rajiv Pratap Rudy is apparently the only civilian to have done aerobatics in a Su-30MKI, doing aerial maneuvers at up 5.86 G’s after just an hour of breifing. Wing Commandar Karunakar (instructor on the Sukhoi) of 106 squadron of Sukhois based in Tejpur accompanied the minister. The only parliamentarian to be qualified to fly a commercial aircraft (A320), Rudy is somewhat familiar with the fly-by-wire control system in aircrafts and did barrel rolls and yolk rolls in the Sukhoi. Pushing the limits of a civilian in a fighter, Rudy was then taken on a 6G loop.
Accompanied by Wing Commander S Sajan, former president of India Pratibha Patil flew in a Sukhoi 30 MKI (SB 139) from the Lohegaon Air Base. She flew at a speed of more than 800 kmph at a height of 2.2 km, for 20-minutes without any manoeuvres.
The former Indian cricket team captain may not have flew in an IAF fighter plane but he did go aboard one of their aircraft. MS Dhoni completed his first parachute jump from an Indian Air Force aircraft as part of his training with the Territorial Army.