Indian Air Force chief BS Dhanoa on Thursday flew a Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21 fighter jet solo from Uttarlai air base in Rajasthan. It is one of the oldest aircraft in the force’s inventory. He was on a three-day visit to the forward base to review its operational readiness.

Air Chief Marshal Dhanoa flew the aircraft for around 30 minutes, a statement released by the force said. Two of Dhanoa’s predecessors had undertaken similar feats while serving as IAF chiefs. The newly appointed IAF chief has flown similar aircraft during Kargil operations. He also got the Yudh Sewa Medal for the several night strikes he carried out during the operations.

The Russian-made aircraft came to be known as “flying coffins” after several accidents that killed many IAF personnel between 2007 and 2015. A parliamentary standing committee report, submitted in May 2016, said 22 MiG-21 aircraft crashed between May 2007 to March 2015. The aircraft will be phased out from 2017 to 2020, reported IANS.

Two MiG-21 aircraft reported technical problems last year. While one aircraft that had taken off from the same airbase crashed near Barmer, another one made an emergency landing in Srinagar because of technical snag.