Air show of legendary planes kicks off in the Moscow region

The most remarkable exhibits of the aviation museum include the “flying tank” Il-2 and a plane piloted by Stalin's son

An air show called "Letayushchiye Legendy" ("Flying Legends") went under way this Thursday in the city of Monino near Moscow. The air show was officially unveiled on Friday by Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force, Vladimir Mikhailov. The exhibition and air show will be held until July 31st. Eleven thousand veterans of the Great Patriotic War (WWII) were invited to attend the show.
Speaking to Itar-Tass news agency, Deputy Commander-in-Chief of the Russian Air Force, Colonel General Alexander Zelin, said that the piloting of the MiG-AT would be performed at the beginning of day one of the show. Historical aircraft (Po-2, Dit) would continue the show. Demonstration flights by such aircraft as L-29, Su-26, Su-29 would bring the first day to a close.

On Thursday spectators could watch the demonstration flights of several piloting teams. Four helicopters Mi-24 belonging to a piloting team Berkuty (Golden Eagles) of the Russian Air Force Flying Center (based in Torzhok, the Tver region) took off at 12.00. Besides, spectators could also watch the flight of a new training aircraft MiG-AT. The ROSTO aircraft also took part in the show. ROSTO comprises piloting teams Rus (Russia) and Nebesnye Rutsyri (Sky Knights). It also includes Russia's national team of parachute sport. The ROSTO pilots fly Yak-52, Mi-2, An-2, and L-39.

Military and historical aircraft started performing demonstration flights at 13.00 on Friday, according to Col. Alexander Drobyshevsky, spokesperson for the Russian Air Force. Russkiye Vityazi (Russian Knights) and Strizhi (Martins) will be flying Su-27s and Mig-29s. Air balloons and airships were floating across the sky.

An exhibition of historical aircraft was opened at the Monino air field and the Air Force Museum. The exhibition contains more than 100 various types of aircraft including such historical aircraft as Po-2, Yak-12, MiG-3, Yak-3. The Air Force Museum has a unique collection of more than 44 thousand exhibits including 180 aircraft, 363 aviation engines, more than 2.5 thousand pieces of aviation weapons and ammunition.

The most remarkable exhibits of the museum include the “flying tank” Il-2, the experimental jet fighter Su-27, the strategic bomber M-50, and the super heavy-weight helicopter Mi-12. The aircraft that used to be piloted by Josef Stalin's son, Vasily, is expected to take part in the Monino air show, RIA Novosti reports. The aircraft DIT was developed by Nikolai Polikarpov from I-15bis fighter, the basic fighter of the Soviet Air Force. Vasily Stalin reportedly piloted the DIT during his stint in the Air Force. The I-15bis, a single-seat fighter, was developed in a double-seat version so that second pilot could look after the son of Supreme Commander-in-Chief Josef Stalin in case of emergency.

Short-range bomber Su-2 will be also on display. The original Su-2 first flew in 1940. Ekaterina Zelenko, a female pilot with the Soviet Air Force, rammed her Su-2 bomber into the enemy aircraft. She won a posthumous title of Hero of the Soviet Union for her feat.

According to Elena Mikheeva, a spokeswoman for the department of state-run facilities with restricted access, about 1,700 policemen, 600 servicemen of the Ministry of Internal Affairs, and up to 500 servicemen of the Ministry of Defense are involved in a security operation to maintain law and order in the Monino air field and adjacent areas during the Flying Legends air show. About 700 agents of the FSB (Russian Federal Security Service) will also take part in the operation.

According to Mrs. Mikheeva, two army helicopters will be flying over the exhibition area during the show for “reconnaissance and monitoring purposes.” She added that “those responsible for the security arrangements pay special attention to choosing locations for backup force which will be put into action during large-scale breach of the peace, the backup force will be also used for cordoning off potential areas of emergency and other technological accidents.” The backup force will be composed of a special police unit, a team from the FSB Special Forces Center, and a 100 strong team of the Interior Ministry soldiers and army paratroopers.

Special screening equipment and metal detectors will be installed on all four entries for spectators who travel on foot, and on three car access areas and parking lots. About 30 metal detecting frames and 50 hand-held metal detectors will be used by the security forces. Bomb disposal teams from the FSB and the Interior Ministry will be on duty throughout the air show.

Six dogs specially trained for detecting explosives will be also on the lookout for potential acts of terrorism.

“The department of the Russian Interior Ministry in cooperation with all other security agencies involved in the operation is ready to ensure public order and security during the air show,” said Mr. Mikheeva.

According to Sergei Shlyapuzhnikov, deputy chief of the department of state-run facilities with restricted access of the Interior Ministry, “the Monino air field is a regular military facility, it complies with security requirements.” As regards the security arrangements for this year's air show Flying Legends, Mr. Shlyapuzhnikov said that antiterrorist measures should be a priority.

“Today we focus our efforts specifically on measures to prevent terrorist attacks during the air show,” he was quoted as saying by RIA Novosti. He estimates that the largest number of spectators will attend the show within the next three days. He believes this year's show will attract more people than the show held in Monino last year. “We expect a daily attendance of around 80 thousand people,” said Mr. Shlyapnikov.

Col.Lt. Konstantin Kleshev, head of department of air space utilization and control of the Russian Ministry of Defense, said that “all organizational steps were taken to ensure air safety of the show.”

He said that a number of restrictions had been imposed on the movement of aircraft to prevent accidents similar to the Lvov tragedy in 2002. “Piloting is allowed only within the limits of runaways at an altitude not lower than 200 meters,” said Mr. Kleshev. According to him, only the aircraft that had been registered with the Federal Transport Supervisory Authority were allowed to take part in the air show. The main requirements for approving aircraft include flying norms and pilots' levels of training.

Photos by Vesti

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Author`s name Olga Savka