Words and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Expert Russian mechanics move a splendorous Sukhoi-26M3 with M9F engine.

Two years have elapsed since the Lakeland (Florida) 2003 World Aerobatics Championship, in which Russia dominated the rest of competing countries, winning a lot of awards (among them the 1st, 2nd and 3rd position by Sergei Rakhmanin, Svetlana Kapanina and Alexander Krotov respectively in the Absolute General Individual Classification, the Team Gold Medal and the 1st and 2nd places by Victor Chmal and Mikhail Mamistov in the Four Minutes Final Free Program).

But Russia has strengthened its dominance even more cutting a swathe during the recent WAC 2005 held in Burgos (Spain) through a fantastic performance by the already considered best aerobatic unlimited squad of all time, with nothing more than four former world champions, namely: Sergei Rakhmanin (at Lakeland 2003 and Burgos 2005), Svetlana Kapanina (five times Female World Championship at Oklahoma City 1996, Trencin 1998, Burgos 2001, Lakeland 2003 and Burgos 2005), Mikhail Mamistov (at Burgos 2001) and Victor Chmal (at Oklahoma City 1996), well supported by the new crack Oleg Shpolyanski and other top-notch team pilots as Elena Klimovich, Svetlana Fedorenko, Andrey Bespalov, Larisa Radosteva and Vladimir Popov.

A fantastic Russian team -six of their members appear amongst the ten first positions in the Final General Individual Classification-, which has been the great victor in this WAC Burgos 2005, owing to their huge experience, illusion, competitive ability, all-out stalwartness for triumph and fairly impressive gift.

The Russian aerobatic pilots, above all the aces poker Sergei Rakhmanin, Svetlana Kapanina, Oleg Shpolyanski and Mikhail Mamistov -setting up a world apart by themselves- have proved in this WAC 2005 a great expertise and professionalism, the fruit of many a year of accumulated intensive trainings and flight hours, in search of the maximum possible accuracy. They do fly with a praiseworthy fullhearted effort, concentration and thoroughness, both as for the figures of Aresti Cryptographic Code and the global aesthetic beauty of each one of the Programs, steadily seeking for the biggest possible complexity, facing diverse and lengthy coefficients of difficulty known as K factors.

It must also be emphasized the role of Volga-Dnper Group, taking charge of the transport of
SU-26M3 planes inside a huge IL-76 aircraft.

Sukhoi-26M3: The Pinnacle of an Evolutive Design

Twenty one years have went by since the first SU-26 model (designed by the brilliant talent of Slava Kondratiev along with the later SU-26M) was premiered by the Russian aerobatic team in the WAC 1984 held at Békéscsaba (Hungary) in 1984, and from then on it has been undergoing constant upgrades made by the outstanding Sukhoi Design Bureau, until becoming into the present flagship: the Sukhoi-26M3, conceived from the lessons learnt with Sukhoi-29 and Sukhoi-31 models, and able to sustain very repetitive loads of +12/-10Gs (which confers him an important advantage when it has to maneuver within the limited space of flight in competitions) with a 35º tilted backwards seat, although scientific calculations have verified that wing breakage because of destructive G force only happens from 23Gs. Notwithstanding, the aerodynamic performance of this plane doesn´t allow to attain more than 18Gs in flight, albeit it must be taken into account that there are very few pilots able to surmount the physiological barrier that 12Gs pose.

Boris Rakitin, Chief Designer for Sukhoi Design Bureau Program of Sports Aircraft, was the mastermind of the modifications and improvements introduced in Slava Kondratiev´s basic design which gave birth to the Sukhoi-26M3, a wondrous aerobatic plane, undoubtedly the best in the world at present, with the aim of offering the best possible piston engined flying machine for the men and women making up the Russian national unlimited aerobatic team in the highest level international competitions. And he has truly achieved it.

The international debut of the Sukhoi-26M3 took place during the 2003 WAC at Lakeland (Florida), when an experimental prototype was used by Svetlana Kapanina and Victor Chmal (the other pilots of the Russian team mounted on Sukhoi-31, except Svetlana Fedorenko, Larisa Radosteva and Valentina Drokina who piloted SU26), which had an extraordinary performance (Kapanina was Women Category World Champion and second place in the Absolute General Individual Classification -only beaten by Sergei Rakhmanin-, while Victor Chmal won the Four Minutes Final Free Program with a gorgeous display).

In the Sukhoi-26M3, the aerodynamic performance has been remarkably improved if we compare it with the preceding versions, and the wingspan has been increased 40 cm (being identical to SU-29 in that respect), while the airfoil is the same as in Sukhoi-31. Therefore, this new design lets the pilot put into effect the same G loads in the figures, but with a bigger energetic performance.

On the other hand, the previous aileron mass balance has been transferred into a new one on the improved leading edge so as to obtain softer forces in the handling of the stick.

Furthermore, a further aileron performance has been achieved by means of special fairings with hinges working as gap sealing, while the ailerons (that have been very elongated) execute their complete range of movements. And the empennage of the original Sukhoi-26 has been replaced by Sukhoi-31´s type.

Likewise, the Sukhoi-26M3 of the Russian national unlimited aerobatic team sports the best and most up-to-date technology in the world applied to the building of aerobatic competition aircraft, with:

- Lavishness of reinforced and red cured carbon fiber in the main spars ( so the plane can be painted in any colour) as well as Kevlar on the outer covering and extensive use of composite.

- Titanium instead of steel in such areas as exhaust pipe, battery box, undercarriage, firewall, wing ribs, etc.

- Roller rocker arms nicely engineered.

- Forged magnesium for the control linkages, areas in which the vast majority of rival planes quite often use welded steel.

- Very special aluminium alloys.

- Organoplastics.

- Reinforced fibreglass.

- Stainless steel featuring a fairly high resistance to heat, stress and strains.

Different secret chemical formula composite materials and alloys which have recently been added.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Spectacular takeoff by Victor Chmal during the Q Program. The SU-26M3 efficiency while taking off and landing is utterly superb and showy, needing a very short runway stretch to put into effect both actions. Trying to beat it in this facet entails to queue up in the waiting list for the purchase of a Harrier.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Svetlana Kapanina about to land after his performance in the Q Program.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Impressive climb by Sergei Rakhmanin during the First Unknown Compulsory Program. What for many power plants is the limit, turns into almost effortless natural habitat when we speak about M9F engine.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Inverted flight of Victor Chmal during the First Unknown Compulsory Program.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Titanium engine cover of the out of this world M9F 480 h.p engine, with the prestigious inscription ´ Voronezh Mechanical Plant ´. Inside it, there is a prodigy of very high level traditional mechanics and components built with the utmost possible quality, made with very noble materials and a top-notch finish. We are undoubtedly before the world-beater paradigm of piston engines for aerobatic aircraft, in its most advanced and greatly handcrafted version, not on sale in the market, of which only six units have apparently been built up to this moment, exclusively allotted for the SU-26M3 planes of the Russian unlimited aerobatic flight aces.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Close-up of the front part of M9F engine power plant and propeller of the Sukhoi-26M3 in operation.

The SU-26M3 has also been equipped with the very high quality Zvezda CKC-94M ejectable seat, that has forced a redesign of the canopy, currently exhibiting the shape of a one-piece bubble with the back of the canopy angled more backwards to allow enough room for the quoted ejection seat.

The power of controls in the SU-26M3 is impressive, and the stick pitch forces are almost as light with 10Gs as with 1G.

The rudder is also extremely light and smooth , and in the same way as most unlimited aerobatic aircraft, it requires a steadfast guiding which will be mastered through practice.

The SU-26M3 is a ´neutral design´ aerobatic plane, boasting a great balance and it doesn´t include any compensating control.

The feelings on the stick are the same if the plane moves forward slowly or fast.

The SU-26M3 was conceived to utterly fulfil every parameter and figure encompassed by the unlimited aerobatic competition, but its performance turns out to be specially fantastic during the vertical flight trajectories at low and medium speeds.

The spin features are very dociles as well, though the autoturning peculiarities can be very influenced by the very powerful controls more than in other planes, above all both in the ailerons and the elevator.

Although the ailerons are very stout, maybe even more amazing is the elevator power so as to ´hold´ or ´let go´ the aircraft when it is in stall.

The SU-26M3 is a prodigy of engineering in many respects and it conveys some characteristic feedback when handling the stick. Something that has to be learnt. And the Russian unlimited aerobatic aces greatly avail themselves of it, by accomplishing passionate and top-notch pilotages, achieving absolutely showy quick rolls, virtually impossible to emulate.

It is an aircraft whose only limit is set by the pilot´s skill, courage and knowledge, with the permanent background of a nearly unbounded exploration field to mature.

On the other hand, before flight, even under strong crosswinds, the robust tail wheel keeps the plane rolling wholly straight almost effortless.

Besides, the Sukhoi-26M3 has a specially designed landing gear helping to minimize the sudden unwanted turning tendencies, which added to the directional efficiency of the tail wheel and the long momentum arm, get the SU-26M3 to behave very well on the ground.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Oleg Shpolyanski during the First Unknown Compulsory Program, in which he won the second place.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Terrific vertical climbing by Mikhail Mamistov, fifth in the Final Absolute General Individual Classification.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Svetlana Kapanina, the best aerobatic pilot of all time, goes out of her Sukhoi-26M3 cockpit, after fulfilling the Second Unknown Compulsory Program.

Voronezh M9F Engine: Made in Another Planet.

But undoubtedly, the most distinctive and important element, the epicentre of Sukhoi-26M3, is the out of this world Voronezh M9F radial piston engine, which has been used at the Burgos 2005 WAC with a real power around 480 h.p and has proved to be very superior both in specifications and reliability to the excellent Lycoming AEIO 540-LIB5 300 h.p in the Extra 300S, the Lycoming 304 h.p of the French CAP 232 and the Lycoming IO-540 327 h.p of the Edge 540 with three blade and composite Hartzel propeller.

The initial Voronezh M9F 420 h.p replaced the famous Vedeneyev 360 h.p in the cited experimental Sukhoi-26M3 used by Svetlana Kapanina and Victor Chmal at Lakeland 2003 WAC. Then, it was used at partial power because of security reasons, on being in development phase.

But in the recent Burgos 2005 WAC, the Russians have bettered themselves, displaying an extensively handcrafted Voronezh M9F power plant with authentically out of this world specifications -included inside the aircraft of their most prominent aerobatic aces-, with approximately 480 h.p of real power and full reliability and security, as well as using the three blade and 2.6 m MTV-9 propeller, turning clockwise, a design by Gerd Muhlbauer (since the Russian two blade V530 propeller reaches its operational limit on getting to 360 h.p) with which you can attain more thrust at low speeds.

The M9F is a remarkable improvement over the excellent Vedeneyev M14P 360 h.p and M14PF 400 h.p, with a higher compression ratio along with different and more advanced cylinder heads, and it turns at a 3% more of revolutions per minute, in addition to have a manifold pressure of 40 Hg inches compared to the Vedeneyev M14P 31 Hg inches.

It also sports fully inverted carburettor and whole inverted oil system with dry sump and scavenge pumps, attaining perfect oil pressure at any altitude, being supercharged for optimum performance even at high altitudes apart from improving the mixture distribution and the lubrication, by means of its fully automatic control of both of them.

Moreover, the M9F mount has been significantly reinforced.

On the other hand, the M9F makes use of an oil radiator 1.5 times bigger and a redesigned cowling enhancing a bigger cooling. Such cowling has an identical diameter, but it sports enlarged spinner and fairing behind the spinner which improves the airflow through the engine.

And instead of using the ´iris type´ refrigeration gills of the previous Sukhoi 26 models, in the M9F the hot air leaves the back of the cowl through two big contoured openings, located one on each side, while the fuselage front part has been narrowed in the area just behind the cowl.

The mentioned large contoured openings do heighten the top feasible cooling in hot climates and protracted vertical ascending trajectories.

But above all, the superelite Russian technicians from Voronezh Mechanical Plant have shown a very deep knowledge together with an evolutive capacity and adaptation to circumstances without possible comparison throughout the history of aerobatics.

It seemed impossible to improve the specifications of the already cited M14P and M14PF (350 and 400 h.p respectively), but not resigned to it, they began to study the possibility of carrying out an old dream of the best reputed and internationally acclaimed unlimited aerobatic pilots: the attainment of the 1:1 thrust/weight ratio with a light aerobatic plane and full reliability.

This implied to some extent squaring the circle from a technological standpoint, but Vedeneyev built the experimental engine M14R 460 h.p featuring a supercharger, able to reach 1160 Hg mm at sea level and with a 5,000 feet/minute rate of climb. Furthermore, in cooperation with Lulyka firm, the airflow through the supercharger was redesigned by means of a new casing and three experimental designs were put into effect regarding the diffuser and impeller, increasing the engine rotational speed, and following several tests both with traditional carburetors and more modern fuel injection systems, actual powers of 466 h.p were reached. The global results were quite good.

Nevertheless, face to face with the unlimited aerobatic competition, the Vedeneyev M14R had some drawbacks, for in spite of contributing a great capability in order that the Sukhois-26 ´floated´ in the air with huge ease, they couldn´t get the engine to receive enough cooling air for an extended working, so the typical helicopter like manoeuvres and some other very difficult unlimited stunts had to be compulsorily alternated with a higher speed flight to be able to refrigerate the power plant.

Besides, it demanded periodical overhauls every 50 hours (specially oil filter checks in search of metallic particles, compression tests and cylinders inspection through boroscope) and its operating lifetime was about 500 hours.

Therefore, the M14R, albeit being both an extraordinary engine and an impressive technological breakthrough, couldn´t offer 100% reliability to be used by the elite pilots of the Russian national aerobatic team in the whole range of unlimited figures and manoeuvres.

Although it may seem unbelievable, there are some clues indicating that with the M9F radial piston engine ( also sporting a redesigned supercharger), the Voronezh Mechanical Plant pundits have created a sort of philosopher´s stone of traditional mechanics and there are some clues pointing out they´re on the brink of achieving the yearned for 1:1 thrust/weight ratio. Its sound is certainly dazzling and sublime. There isn´t anything comparable, but not leaving anything undone, the Russians have designed a fabulous dual system of fuel injection, boasting an electronic device (injecting fuel inside each separate intake pipe under high pressure) complemented by a mechanical reversion, in such a way that if the electronic system fails, the engine will go on running after one second, driven by the cited mechanical gadget of fuel injection, though with around a 14.5% less power.

The engine starting has enormously been simplified in the M9F, because you don´t need any kind of primer, cause the engine is only started by the electric fuel pump.

The gearbox is very up-to-date featuring a very strong output shaft and the rear of the engine (id est, everything behind the crankcase) contains complex ancillary drives.

It must also be underlined that the Voronezh M9F engine, built with the virtuosity of a Swiss horologist master, has an unutterable suitability to move up from the lowest possible power index to the utmost one, without the customary ´hesitation´ moment, and in Burgos 2005 WAC, it has demonstrated to be able to carry out easily and with a very high percentage of accuracy some maneuvers more inherent to helicopters domain.
The M9F is also superior as to the supercharger, owing to bigger bearings and reinforcements that have been installed to perform the hydraulic drive from the engine rear, and attains a greater integral power by means of the use of better fuel mixtures and an optimized atomisation of that fuel while it goes into the cylinders and taking into account the world class and legendary heat treatment of titanium by Russian high end industry, the very few exclusive M9Fs built with a lot of craftsmanship parameters -not on sale and only incorporated in the SU26M3s of the Russian unlimited aerobatic team- have perhaps been equipped with virtually unbreakable titanium pitmans, though this remains a trade secret.

This most advanced version of M9F engine works at an intermediate rate of about 460 h.p at approximately 1090 Hg mm, although after watching live the incredible stunts and level of thoroughness made by the Russian aces at Burgos 2005 WAC, it is possible that the M9F engines coupled to the Sukhoi-26M3s have now and then undergone superb tune-up, with manifold pressures near 1200 Hg mm and an actual power close to 500 h.p.

Therefore, the Voronezh M9F is undoubtedly the best and most powerful aerobatic engine in the world and it has the highest power to weight ratio of all the available piston engined power plants for aerobatics on earth.
There is another essential factor contributing to the unbelievable M9F efficiency: the colossal know-how and working capacity by the mechanics accompanying the pilots of the Russian aerobatic squad. These men constantly hang on the adjusting and overhaul of engines, fulfilling extraordinary tunings.

At present, there´re some hints suggesting that the prestigious Voronezh Mechanical Plant may be making trial and error tests with experimental M9F engines giving 500 h.p in conditions of enough reliability and working operative limit about 525 h.p.

To get the hang of the utterly terrific power of this thoroughbred Voronezh M9F 480 h.p engine, a full-fledged masterpiece of mechanical craftsmanship exclusively built for the Russian unlimited aerobatic national team -of which only six units have been made until now and some of whose specifications are secret- suffice it to say that such M9F engine in 420 h.p standard version (without the monstrous power or the formidable tuning sported by the SU-26M3 of the Russian cracks) is the power plant of the amphibious hydroplane SA-20P (from the Russian KnAAPO aeronautical firm), whose maximum take off load can reach 2,270 kg, carrying five passengers + the pilot to a cruising height of up to 3,000 meters, having been created for long distance civilian missions.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
The mythical Svetlana Kapanina interviewed by a TV channel.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Sergei Rakhmanin, World Champion of Unlimited Aerobatic Flight.
©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Oleg Shpolyanski, Silver Medal in the Final Absolute General Individual Classification.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Victor Chmal during his splendid performance in the Four Minutes Final Free Program, in which he got the third place.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Sergei Rakhmanin taxiing on the grass, after finishing the Second Unknown Compulsory Program.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Vertical spin with smoke by Svetlana Kapanina, in the height of the Four Minutes Final Free Program.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Spectacular smoke enhanced action by Elena Klimovich during the Four Minutes Final Free Program, in which she won the first place in female category.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Svetlana Kapanina´s Sukhoi-26M3 after landing following the Free Program.

Aerobatic Capacity upon the Verge of the Impossible.

The quoted deluxe duo SU-26M3 + Voronezh M9F engine, along with the great skill, courage and long-standing experience displayed by the Russian pilots become them into steadfast stellar maestros of the most diverse unlimited aerobatic figures: Loop, Slow Roll, Spin, Half Cuban Eight, Immelmann, Inverted Half Cuban Eight, Inverted Turn 360º, Hammer Head, Inverted Loop, Flick Roll, Negative Flick Roll, Avalanche, Rolling Turns, Tail Slide, Cuban Eight, etc, which they implement in the course of the different competition programs, namely: Known Compulsory Program (also known as Q Program), Free Program, First Unknown Compulsory Program, Second Unknown Compulsory Program and the nice Four Minutes Final Free Program (whose main figures are the Spins, Torque Rolls, Tumbles, Double Hammerhead and Lomcevak), frequently adorned with smoke, and where artistic creativity is bore in mind by judges above and beyond any other considerations, unlike the rest of Programs being much more strict and essentially scoring the fulfilment of figures of Aresti Cryptographic Code.
It all with uncommon accuracy, speed and style. They´re fairly excellent pilots, certainly the best in the world, and their lifetime epicentre is to flawlessly obtain the maximum accuracy and showiness in their aerobatic feats, which compels them to make elaborate estimates at the height of their flights, in tenths of a second, without ever getting out of the 1000 meters wide x 1000 meters long imaginary cube setting up the allowed space for competition, closely watched by a panel of very knowledgeable international judges, situated on the ground, constantly aware of their evolutions and entirely professional, strict and fair whenever they score.

Despite some neophytes in this aerobatic flight domain can think that these pistol engined with propeller planes are currently obsolete, nothing farther from reality.

The SU-26M3 is for the aerobatic aircraft scope what an integrated valve amplifier for the superlative stereo hi-fi quality, a mechanical Hummer for the all-around vehicles or a Master Control 1000 Hours Jaeger-LeCoultre watch for the Swiss manufactures. A product designed and built without any compromises, greatly free from budget restraints and not subject to mediocre criteria of intentionally programmed obsolescence, but laid down on a wondrously brilliant basic initial model, which has been progressively equipped with a series of modifications and upgrades having enabled it to stand firm as the technological spearhead of aerobatic flight sphere, contributing exceptional performance and reliability during the hugely exacting unlimited aerobatic contests. Besides, it has proved both an enormous stability on carrying out the figures and a great hardiness, being able to endure a continuous use for years with low maintenance costs.

No ultramodern jet fighter can´t compete at all in aerobatic ability with a Sukhoi-26M3. To quote only an instance, a F-16 pilot can quickly reach Mach 2 and describe an awesome loop, but in the same time needed to accomplish that movement, a SU-26M3 is able to perform several loops simultaneously carried out with rolls, and finishing with a swift diving half loop.

The SU-26M3 arises from a design in which the neutral pitch stability is attained to full extent. This way, it is a very sensitive aircraft in different pitch attitudes, which makes it able to put into effect all sorts of maneuvers with incredible angles and the lightning unleashing of very high G forces.

Nevertheless, the SU-26M3 is a superspecialized aerobatic aircraft that can be only flown reliably and accurately by very experienced internationally high ranked unlimited pilots, above all on performing the comprehensive assortment of Aresti figures and rest of manoeuvres in full-scale competition.

Top speed is around 450 km/h.

Its rudder is very powerful, which added to the huge propeller and the neutral balance let it fulfil gyroscopic maneouvres with awesome easiness, being simple for example the transition from a snap roll to a hair-raising tumble if you don´t keep the elevator enough backwards during the recovery from the cited quick snap roll.         Precision here is of paramount importance.

The SU-26M3 can fly inverted for approximately five minutes and its roll rate is 400º/sec.

Since there aren´t any military needs for manoeuvres generating high negative Gs, jets are not prepared to face them and their fuel and lubricating systems can malfunction if gravity force is reverted.

The unlimited aerobatic pilots are undoubtedly the best in the world for many factors, among them that they must endure the positive Gs (during the high inclination turns, when they´re strongly pressed against their seat) and the negative Gs (during the inverted turns and when pressure is exerted on the stick). They´re also subjected to the possible reduction in their peripheral sight, even the grey-out and the black-out in cases of very strong accelerations, the lack of blood irrigation in the head or its transfer to the top of the body in case of negative G, the breathing difficulties brought about by the strong accelerations, the compression both in lungs and in the rest of the body, etc.

Throughout the unlimited competition is usual to undergo tremendous +10G -10G accelerations or the alternation of both, being much more difficult to bear, for unlike the jet fighter pilots, the piston engined aircraft aerobatic aviators don´t wear any G suit or oxygen mask, because it would only be useful for the protracted positive accelerations, but not for the mentioned positive and negative Gs alternance.

Therefore, aerobatic flight pilots must compress their abdomen in order to slow down the displacement of blood in the body, thus delaying the veils and they´ve to learn to handle the neck muscles, whose effort is high to resist the violent lateral acceleration in rolls.

On the other hand, the superelite Russian national unlimited aerobatic team have developed a ´sixth sense´, managing to intuitively know at decisive specific moments in which exact angle the plane is positioned, the maximum distanced travelled making rolls, how long the throttle can be left deactivated before stalling or how much of it must be opened to speed up full-blast before losing control, etc.

As a matter of fact, when flying at stable speed, you don´t need to be very active with the throttle and after any turbulence, the aircraft will tend to go back to its balance airspeed without further intervention by the pilot.

But at low speeds near the angle of stall, the circumstances are completely different, because if an air gust brings about a speed decrease there will be a drag increase exceeding the thrust, causing an even bigger speed, unless the pilot reacts giving more power.

And if a wind gust provokes a speed increase, the drag decreases, becoming lesser than the thrust, with the subsequent bigger acceleration of the aircraft from the original speed, unless the pilot reduces power.
This way, at low speeds near the stall angle, the aerobatic pilot has to be very active, experienced and deft with the throttle so as to keep the required low speed in some manoeuvres with the utmost possible accuracy, something really difficult. And with regard to this side, Russian pilots have demonstrated to be consummate masters, specially in the maximum possible slowing down of speed on performing the vertical climbings and the 45º turns, also achieving a better control of energy. Watching this live is an unforgettable event to delight in.

This is the environment in which takes place perhaps the most sublime aerobatic action making the spectators go into raptures, when the SU-26M3 fulfils an amazingly protracted vertical climb, absolutely remarkable because of the progressive intentional decrease of the climbing speed, little by little, until reaching the highest point, some grandiose few seconds in which the aircraft comes to a standstill, static and floating in the middle of the air, as if it wasn´t influenced by gravity force. Shortly after, the Sukhoi starts describing an arc following the course of a hammerhead. Suddenly, the mind blocks and it isn´t easy to distinguish if we are watching a Sukhoi, a Kamov chopper or a Xenon ABS Gyros autogyro........... Unexpectedly, the plane begins to fall, slowly at first, but then faster and faster, until performing a swift dive at 250 miles / hour, with the speed indicator approaching its red line and the wind screaming around the plane. It´s the collective delirium tremens.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
A historical event. Sergei Rakhmanin raises the mythical Aresti Cup appointing him best pilot in the world, while the Russian national anthem sounds as background.

©José Manuel Serrano Esparza
Everybody has been amazed by the Russian unlimited aerobatic pilots during WAC 2005.

© Copyright Text and Photos: José Manuel Serrano Esparza