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12 Aug, 2007 00:56

Russian Air Force marks 95th anniversary

The Russian Air Force is celebrating its 95th anniversary. To mark the historical importance of the event, an air show took place just outside Moscow. The Russian Air Force dates back to 1912.

Russia has been at the vanguard of military aviation ever since. In 1913 the “Ilya Muromets” became the world's first multiengine bomber. Later it was the cornerstone of the country’s air defences.

In 1937, legendary pilot Valery Chkalov was the first to fly from Russia to the United States via the North Pole.

By 1941, the Soviet Union held 62 flying records in both speed and distance.

Soviet pilots fought the mighty Luftwaffe during WWII. And it was they who were the first to conquer space.

The last 20 years were not easy for the Russian Air Force – it faced a lack of fuel and financing grounded squadron after squadron. But now it seems to be back on track.

In modern warfare, airpower is more important than ever. And to meet this reality, aircraft have become increasingly sophisticated.

In fact, developments in aviation have always gone hand-in-hand with state-of-the-art technology.

And top Air Force officials are always ready to acknowledge the contribution made by designers as well as pilots.

“First of all I would like to congratulate all the veterans of the Air force, the constructors that created these wonderful airplanes that you saw, as well as all those that serve their duty to protect Russia's airspace,” said Aleksandr Zelin, Commander of Russia’s Air Force.

The 30,000 spectators that turned up for the air show could see almost every type of aircraft currently used  – from strategic bombers and interceptors to the latest fighter jets.

The most advanced MI-28 and KA-50 demonstrated what they are capable of. But the highlight of the programme was the performance of the two famous Russian top-gun teams – “Stryazhi” and “Vityazi”. They performed multiple stunts keeping  everyone’s eyes riveted to the skies.

“For us, the pilots, this festival is first of all a serious job, but at the same time it is also a great honor and joy, because we have performed, we did it well, and you can tell by looking at the spectators they enjoyed it too!” noted Aleksandr Petrov, Russian Air Force Colonel.

The performance was also a good chance for the pilots to sharpen their skills  for the MAKS 2007 Air Show, which takes off in just a few days.

There are many ways to celebrate your professional holiday but for the top guns the only option is to get airborne. Well as they say, once you’ve had a chance to touch the skies – you get addicted to it for the rest of your life.