Saturday, July 9, 2011

It’s official: Sachin, Dhoni to take off on Sukhois

The city will host two of India’s iconic cricketers—batting legend Sachin Tendulkar and team skipper Mahendra Singh Dhoni — when they fly the Indian Air Force fighter jet, Su-30 MKI, from the Lohegaon Air Force Station. The Ministry of Defence (MoD) has given the green signal to the Sukhoi sorties of Tendulkar and Dhoni. As the two are currently abroad, the formalities will be completed depending on their availability. “It is confirmed they will be flying from Pune. A decision on the dates and other formalities will be taken once they return to India, depending on their schedules,” IAF spokesperson Wing Commander T K Singha told The Indian Express from New Delhi.

While Tendulkar has been awarded the rank of an Honorary Group Captain by the IAF, Jharkhand Chief Minister Arjun Munda had recently recommended Dhoni’s name to the MoD for the rank of an Honorary Lieutenant Colonel in the Territorial Army. In January, Air Marshal Anjan Kumar Gogoi, Air Officer Commanding-in-Chief, South Western Air Command, had said during a visit to Lohegaon Air Force Station that a proposal for Tendulkar’s Sukhoi sortie had been sent to the MoD and if approved, it would take place from Pune. Dhoni’s sortie has, however, come as a pleasant surprise. “We will try to plan the sorties together. The duo will have to undergo medical tests and attend briefing sessions before the flight. They would be flying from the rear seat,” said Singha.

The Lohegaon Air Force Station, which houses three squadrons of Su-30 MKIs, hosted the then president A P J Abdul Kalam’s sortie in 2006. In 2009, President Pratibha Patil too took a sortie in a Su- 30 MKI.

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