Viktor Pugachev, inventor of “Pugachev’s Cobra" maneuver

十二月 17, 2008 at 22:20 | 張貼於aeroplane, aircraft, russian, russian aircraft | 發表留言
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Viktor Pugachev

Novaya Gazeta

By Irina Timofeevna (Translated by Roy Cochrun)


“Pugachev’s Cobra" lives in the world of aerobatic maneuvers at the level of such well known maneuvers as the “Nesterov loop" and “Kvochur’s bell." This maneuver, during which the airplane, quickly having rolled out to a great angle, executes a straight-up maneuver, having been frozen in the air for several seconds. Viktor Pugachev is a legendary airman, the holder of this particular piloting trick. Honored test pilot, Hero of the Union, he has been working more than a decade at the Sukhoy firm.

Test pilots Viktor Pugatshev in the Su-27 and Bland Smith in the F-16C preparing for their demos during the 1989 Paris Airshow.

How did the idea to do the “cobra" arise?

It was in 89, when the task was placed before the Sukhoy firm to demonstrate Su airplanes for the first time at the international salon in Paris. Before this we, essentially, had not participated in salons.


On account of secrecy being closed up – the “iron curtain" then only was beginning to open slightly.

And previously only civilian firms represented our country at air salons?

That’s right – Tupolev, Il’yushin, and Antonov. The Su-25 and Su-27 have flown at Le Bourget – we already had learned these airplanes well. I had tested them in a stall and a spin. We had research large angles of attack for control of a spin, for pulling out of it. The idea arose to slow the airplane quickly or quickly to turn it toward the enemy in a dog fight. Then it was decided to use an angle of attack of 25 – 30 degrees. We conceived of using the whole 90.

And then you increased the angle of attack to 120 degrees, when the fighter departs rearward and freezes and starts to slow down in the air?

Yes, a departure to such angles takes place in 2 – 3 seconds. This was already a new direction in the research of the airplane’s stability – super-maneuverability. Mathematical modeling had preceded our work and work on the test stands. After which we began to test the “cobra" in flight. So when they gave us the task to get ready for the air salon in Paris, the experience was already there.

Who invented such an unusual name for this element of aerobatics?

Before the trip to Le Bourget, the Su General Designer, Mikhail Simonov, gathered the team which had been entrusted for the preparations. He said, “Guys, our airplane certainly isn’t bad. We can show some find maneuvering characteristics – steep turns, half rolls, turns. But well, aren’t we will be able to show something that no other airplane has shown?"

What was the most complicated?

To execute all this at a low altitude. Because right up to this I had been executing the figure at high altitudes. Over 2 months we actively at been doing the “cobra." And on 28 April 1989, I executed this regime over the airfield in Zhukovskiy for the first time. Before the general designer and our whole Sukhoy team…

In view of an amazed public?

This was a bit later. Before it reached the public, I had executed a thousand such regimes for certain. But you don’t see it yourself from the side. And well, I had seen it on video tape but still the from the amazed eyes of my friends – it became clear: It looks unusual!

How did the first performances go?

We executed the first flight – everything came together well. Only there were many questions that arose with the international commission: what does this mean? And at the critique the asked us: “And what in general did this mean?" We explained for a long time: It is a departure of the airplane to 120 degrees. Everyone thought: How can it be to 120? It’s dangerous, it may stall! Absolutely not, here are our materials – we have performed thousands of the regimes. But the commission requested a second flight so that nonetheless they could examine this regime in detail. Well, we can execute two, three – however many you want! After the second flight we could see already the amazed eyes of the French aviators and the members of the commission.

And the world press? How did it react to your “cobra"?

For 2 – 3 days the Western press had to be quiet. Simply because their airplanes couldn’t repeat our regimes. The French journalists tried to argue with us: is this necessary? And how dangerous is it – isn’t it dangerous? They talked about whatever they liked – only not about the concrete fact. Well, the French consider themselves the legislators of the fashion in aviation. But after a few of General Designer Mikhail Simonov’s press conferences the started to call things by their own names: The Su firm is a favorite of aircraft construction!

Why do you need super-maneuverability? What does it give you in a dog fight?

WIth the help of super-maneuverability it is possible to frustrate the enemy’s attack. In that our Su frustrates a cannon strike – it is 100 percent! Today the design of the Su-30MK airplane makes victory possible in the very first attack! Not one airplane in the world today can execute the regimes of the Su-30MK!

But perhaps the West just has another tactic – no dog fights, but bombing at high altitude and departing?

In my opinion, the interception of attacking and defending airplanes is inevitable. Yugoslavia provided such an experience, by the way, in which a stealth airplane was shot down. It was shot down only because of the fact that it turned up not far from a MiG-29. The newest airplane was lost in particular in close combat.

You have been able to open up another epoch in Russian aviation – first to land the new ship-based airplanes on the first aircraft carriers in our country:

Yes, the times for this program were fantastic – in 1983 our firm started to develop the research and as early as 1987 we had flown the first ship-based airplane.

There were two processes on-going at the same time: the research and tests of the deck-based airplane and the construction of the aircraft carrier. But our navy didn’t know such ships before that time. We had seen them only in Hollywood’s films. The Nikolaevsk shipbuilding plant built the first domestic aircraft carrier. The task was unprecedented: To design and build immediately several such ships.


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