Russian Knights mark 20th anniversary

The Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) aerobatic team was formed April 5, 1991 and is based at the 237th Guards Proskurov Air Force Regiment, comprising the best pilots from the Kubinka Air Base near Moscow.

The team includes Vladimir Basov, Alexander Dyatlov, Sergei Ganichev, Vladimir Bukin, Vladimir Bazhenov and Alexander Lichkun.

The team now has six fourth-generation Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighters and is the world's only unit performing aerobatic stunts both solo and in formation in warplanes of this class.

Moreover, five Su-27s and four Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-29 Fulcrum fighters from the Strizhi (Swifts) team fly in the Big Nine formation.

The Russian Knights are the world's only aerobatic team that uses heavy frontline fighters Su-27s for demonstration flights, which have repeatedly earned the applause of the public.

Many liken the Russian Knights' aerobatics to a ballet performance, despite the fact that the aggregate weight of the aircraft of the six-plane team totals approximately 150 tons.

Formed on April 5, 1991, the Russian Knights made their foreign debut in September of that year, when they demonstrated their aerobatics program in the United Kingdom within the framework of the Leuchars Air Show

Since then they have regularly participated in major air shows all across the globe, including the United States, Canada, France, the Netherlands, Norway, Belgium and the United Arab Emirates.

The Russian Knights' aerobatics program includes a wide array of sophisticated aerobatic maneuvers, says the team's pilot Lieutenant Colonel Oleg Yerofeyev.