Wing Commander Rajiv Kothiyal (15696) F(P) was commissioned as a Fighter Pilot in the Indian Air Force on 15th June, 1979. After successful stints in various fighter squadrons, he served as a Flight Commander in a front-line-air-superiority MiG29 squadron. On completion of his tenure, he was selected to undergo the Experimental Test Pilot Course at the United States Air Force Test Pilot School. He graduated successfully from his prestigious institution in May 1990. In February, 1995, Wg Cdr Kothiyal was selected for the challenging assignment of being the Test Pilot for the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA) project. Since then he has been actively involved in every facet of the design and development of the LCA, providing the most important pilot-interface to the LCA project. The successful development of control law for the Digital Fly-by-wire Control system, the Cockpit architecture and the pilotĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s check lists and emergency procedures are attributed to Wg Cdr KothiyalĂ˘â‚¬â„˘s professional diligence and application of mind. Having successfully participated in the development activities, Wg Cdr Kothiyal was entrusted with undertaking the maiden flight of the first prototype of the LCA on 04-01-2001. This was the first occasion when an aircraft fully developed in India was to fly with a Fly-by-wire system. This complex system is packed with computerised flying controls, which enable an unstable aircraft to be flown with a very high degree of agility. Wg Cdr Kothiyal meticulously planned the test flight and ensured that every contingency was catered for. Wg Cdr Kothiyal flew the maiden test flight in the most exemplary manner.
Wing Commander Rajiv Kothiyal in this pioneering act displayed exceptional professionalism, courage and bravery that were in keeping with the highest traditions of the Indian Air Force.