Ambala: For 14-year-old Chandan, it was the best day of his young life. For an entire day, he was a fighter pilot, rubbing shoulders with the elite men who literally, fly high. But Chandan, too, is a fighter. For over three years, he has been battling cancer.
Three winters ago, NDTV had met the boy outside Delhi's All India Institute of Medical Sciences. He had come for treatment from Bihar and his family had no place to stay in the national capital. The boy was spending the freezing nights in the open.
Generous donors helped raise Rs 12 lakh for him. It had helped Chandan find a place to stay and cover the cost of his treatment. And today, the Indian Air Force gave him to a chance to be a pilot.
From donning the full uniform and reporting to the base chief at the Ambala Air Force Station, to taking lessons in a simulator and then moving onto a real cockpit - Chandan fully earned the flight certificate that was awarded to him at the end of the day. In his overalls and Ray-Bans and helmet, he looked every inch the pilot.
"Since he was a child, he would nag me about flying and now look at him. He hasn't stopped smiling. We are grateful to the IAF," said Chandan's father Girish.
The young pilots said they admired Chandan for his bravery. "Fighting cancer is way tougher than flying this mean machine and we salute him for this," said one of them.
Rahul from Uday Foundation, who has been taking care of the boy and his family said, "Chandan has become terminally ill now. Cancer has spread all through his body and doctors say we have to wait for a miracle. We hope this will be that miracle."