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The show this year had several aerobatic displays, featuring a Pitts, a Sukhoi 29, and the famous Sukhoi 31 of Jurgis Kairys. The photo above shows Jurgis performing the well known "hanging on the propeller" routine, where the aircraft is supported by the power of the engine.

The engine produces 400 horsepower, and while this may not sound a lot compared with the fighters, which might have over 2000 horses, it is the power to weight ratio which makes this sort of thing possible in the Su 31. The use of high tech materials makes the little plane very light, so 400 horses is plenty of power and allows these types of maneuver which would be impossible in most other aircraft.

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As well as world aerobatics champ Jurgis Kairys we had 5 times womens champ, Svetlana Kapanina, performing in a borrowed Su 29. The Su 29 is a two seater aerobatics aircraft with a 360 horsepower engine and a lightweight titanium ribbed body.

Because its a two seater I guess an aerobatics pilot like Svetlana could take passengers for a flight. I must admit that, while I love flying, I don't think I would be brave enough to try it!


You can see Svetlana sitting in the back seat of the Su 29 here, photographed shortly after landing.

The back seat gives better visibility while flying, although it must be even more difficult than usual to see where you're going while on the ground!


Here's Jurgis in the Su 31 again, with the smoke off so you can see the aircraft itself.

Notice the windows in the bottom of the fuselage which give visibility below, and the triangular shaped rods sticking out of the wings which help in lining up the aircraft for various maneuvers.


Jurgis doesn't like turning off the smoke, apparently. He's got it going here while he lands.

And, of course, he just has to sit in one spot with the brakes on and blow a whole lot of it up into the grandstand after landing. Sometimes you can't even see where he is any more!


I don't know if the Thunder Mustang really counts as an aerobatics aircraft, but it is certainly a very nice little machine and capable of excellent performance - better than the original Mustang it is modelled on in many respects.

Its powered by a 640 horsepower Ryan Falconer V12 racing engine which is much less powerful than the P51D, but it only weighs 3200 pounds, compared with 11,600 for the original, so the power to weight ratio is pretty impressive!


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