Prez takes maiden sortie in fighter jet

Tezpur (Assam), Apr 08 (PTI) President Droupadi Murmu on Saturday flew on her maiden sortie in a fighter aircraft from Tezpur air base in Assam.
Group Captain Naveen Kumar Tiwari, the Commanding Officer of the 106th Squadron, flew her in a Sukhoi-30 MKI that took off from the Indian Air Force base.
“Achcha laga (felt good),” Murmu told reporters after completing her nearly 30-minute sortie.
Murmu, who was on a three-day trip to Assam, reached Tezpur from Guwahati. She was received at the air base by Air Marshal S P Dharkar, Governor Gulab Chand Kataria and Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma.
After landing at Tezpur, Murmu received a guard of honour from IAF personnel, followed by an official briefing on her flight aboard the Sukhoi aircraft.
She then reached the hangar wearing the flying suit, and waved at the waiting journalists before climbing the ladder to board the aircraft.
The president also posed with her pilot and other officials in front of the aircraft.
After sitting in the cockpit, a woman officer helped her put on the helmet and complete other technicalities. She waved from the cockpit just seconds before the aircraft canopy was shut.
Alighting from the aircraft after the sortie, she again posed with the group captain and waved to the waiting journalists.
Though no media interaction was scheduled with the president, she said “achcha laga” (felt good) when a waiting journalist asked her how the sortie was.
Murmu is the third president after APJ Abdul Kalam and Pratibha Patil to fly a sortie in a fighter aircraft. Her predecessors, however, had taken their rides from Pune air base.
The sortie of Murmu, who is the Supreme Commander of the Indian Armed Forces, from the Tezpur base assumes significance as it is bordering Arunachal Pradesh which China claims to be a part of its territory.
Later in the day, the Rashtrapati Bhavan, in a release, said she was briefed on the operational capabilities of the Sukhoi-30 MKI and the Indian Air Force.
“She expressed satisfaction with the operational preparedness of the IAF. The president’s sortie in the Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft is a part of her efforts to engage with the armed forces, as its supreme commander,” it added.
In March 2023, she had visited INS Vikrant and interacted with officers and sailors on board the indigenously built aircraft, the Rashtrapati Bhavan stated.
During the sortie, the fighter aircraft flew at a height of about 2 km above sea level and at a speed of about 800 kmph, it added.
Murmu flew for approximately 30 minutes over the Brahmaputra Valley with a view of Himalayas before returning to the air force station, the release stated.
In the visitor’s log book, she wrote a brief note: “It was an exhilarating experience for me to fly in the mighty Sukhoi-30 MKI fighter aircraft of the Indian Air Force… I congratulate the Indian Air Force and the entire team of Air Force Station Tezpur for organising this sortie.”
Wrapping up her Assam tour, Murmu left Tezpur around 12.30 pm.

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