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The number of joint exercises which the Indian Air Force (IAF) has had with the US Air Force seems to have finally brought recognition for the capabilities of force's pilots. For the first time in the history of the country's flying arm, two of its pilots have been chosen for an award celebrating lasting contributions to the advancement of aerospace and applying aviation to the betterment of humankind.
A press note issued by the IAF here today said Wing Commander S.K. Sharma and Flt Lieut A.B. Dhanake will receive the Laureates Trophy at the Smithsonian National Air Space Museum in Washington tomorrow and be inducted in the Smithsonian's Hall of Fame.
Wing Commander Sharma and Flying Lieutnant Dhanake rescued three critically injured mountaineers from a world record height of 23,260 feet in May last year for which they were awarded the peacetime gallantry award 'Kirti Chakra' on the Republic Day this year.
The two intrepid IAF officers were chosen by the Aviation Week and Space Technology for the award-conferred by the world renowned Smithsonian Aviation & Space Museum—as the most outstanding achievers in Aviation Operations category for 2004.
The Smithsonian Air Space Museum felicitates selected individuals for having made lasting contributions to the advancement of Aerospace and those who apply aviation to the betterment of humankind.
The only Indians to have been inducted in the Smithsonian Hall of Fame so far are President A.P.J Abdul Kalam and industrialist and pioneer aviator late J.R.D. Tata.