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26 Aug, 2007 07:15

Record-breaking crowds at MAKS 2007

Thousands of visitors are heading for the Zhukovsky airfield on Sunday, the closing day at the MAKS 2007 air show. It's their last opportunity to see stunts by some of the world's 'top guns'.

“It took us ages to get here. The train was packed. But we're glad to be here. The air show is really nice. We had to sweat on the train like in a sauna,” one of the visitors said.

Nikolay Dimidyuk, Director for Special Commissions of Russia's defence exports organisation, Rosoboronexport, said MAKS 2007 was definitely a success, the most impressive thing being its scale, as about 800 companies have taken part in this show.

Once through the gates, there are lines for just about everything: food and drinks. You can get inside the plane and see the view from the cockpit, although you have to wait for the experience.

But something you don’t have to queue for are the spectacular flight displays. And it is not just planes on display, but also the sky-divers.

Alongside the very latest in aviation technology, some old Russian favourites have also been on display at the MAKS air show.
One of them, the KA-50 that also goes by the name of ‘Black Shark’, was the world's first single-seat attack helicopter.

Black Shark alias Alligator, alias HOKUM in NATO, Werewolf in other places – the names are plentiful, but they all refer to the one and only KA-50 gunship.

The Black Shark’s hidden advantages are many – unique flight characteristics at high altitudes and temperatures, freedom from conventional design limits on speed and lift.

To be more precise, it has a damage-resistant tail on emergency landing, unlimited hovering turn rate, and immunity to crosswinds, as well as minimum electronic footprint and acoustic signature. It can spiral around the target at varying altitudes with a concentrated point of fire to do the dance macabre, or perform anti-missile manoeuvres.

A pilot can terminate the target with deadly accuracy and surgical precision. 
Those features were combat-proven in the Caucasus Mountains.

At the same time pilots say the Black Shark is very simple to operate.

“It’s simple, with all its computerised systems it’s simple. If you can handle a helicopter, it would take you a very short time to start flying the Black Shark. And if you can’t, it would take you 40% less time than learning to operate just a helicopter,” said Sergey Papay, pilot.