Kalaikunda: The iconic MiG-21 FL — a variant in the MiG-21 series of fighter aircraft — that heralded the dawn of the supersonic jet era for the Indian Air Force half a century ago, yesterday passed into military aviation history at an emotional fly past and parade at an air base here.
Two pairs of MiG-21 FLs took off with a deafening roar from the runway of the Kalaikunda air base at 9.45am for one last time yesterday, ending a 50-year-long association with the IAF.
The jet — that has been flown by nearly three out of every four fighter pilots of the IAF since its induction in 1963 and dealt telling blows to the Pakistan Air Force during the 1971 war — made its final pass in a four-aircraft box formation over the tarmac area.
A separate formation by three MiG-27 MLs roared overhead, performing the Trishul Break Manoeuvre in a final salute to the MiG-21s (Type-77).
It was a nostalgic moment for Air Chief Marshal N A K Browne and many other weather-beaten IAF veterans who had flown the jet and experienced the distinct “kick” of its reheat, regarded by aviation experts as quite unlike any other fighter jet’s “reheat” experience.