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Red Bull Air Race Rotterdam

N540BW N540HA
Sukhoi Su-29
Yakovlev YAK-52
EC-HYU Sukhoi Su-26M c/n 04-02 - Drachten airfield in Holland - 8 June 2005 Red Bull Air Race

The Sukhoi Su-26M is a single-seater aerobatics plane from the former Soviet Union, powered by a single radial reciprocating engine, built and developed by the Sukhoi Company (JSC)in Russia. The Su-26 has mid-mounted straight wings and fixed landing gear with the main gear mounted on a solid titanium arc. In 1983, the Sukhoi Design Bureau started the development of a new aerobatic aeroplane under the manufacturer's designation S42. The design of the new plane was based on guidelines for developing a highly-manoeuvrable aerobatic aeroplane and especially the requirements of the Central Committee of the USSR DOSAAF. Requirements that the design had to meet were among other things: high power-to-weight ratio achieved through a rugged design, the weight of the airframe being kept down to a minimum; special aerodynamic symmetric-profile wing configuration to enable superior piloting performance; a robust airframe structure capable of sustaining +12/-10 G loads; extensive use of composite materials in the design; ergonomic cockpit configuration. On 30 June 1984, the first prototype, named the Sukhoi Su-26 (S42-1), was flown first from the M.M Gromov airfield in Zhukovsky. The Su-26 was unveiled at the world championship in Hungary in August 1984. Next to the pototype Su-26 (S42-1) with a two-bladed prop, three Su-26 aircraft (S42-2; -3 and -4) were built. Participation in international competitions provided the experience required to redesign and fine-tune the aeroplane. To enhance its maneuverability and controllability, it was necessary to lighten and strengthen the aeroplane enough so that it could withstand high G levels, extend its limits, and keep everything in good aerodynamic form. The problems were solved by introducing robust and lightweight composite materials like carbon fibre-reinforced plastics, organoplastics, and glassfibre reinforced plastics as well as stainless steel, titanium and aluminum alloys. The Su-26 was used to test the new wing design and fins. In static tests the S-26M airframe reached a breaking point under a load of 22.5 G, much higher then the aeroplane's aerodynamic performance that does not make it possible to achieve more than 18 G in flight. The operational 12 G limit imposed is due to human physiological capabilities. To make sure the pilot was able to perform under such extreme g-loads, the cockpit was designed using special human engineering solutions, including an anthropometric seat with 35° back tilt and a unique safety harness. This made it possible for the pilot to accurately control the aeroplane's position in space and handle the aeroplane with utmost precision. The first Su-26M prototype (S42-5) was flown first on 27 July 1985. The Su-26 production switched to the Su-26M, with refined tail surfaces and a German-made MTV-9 3-blade composite propeller. To prepare for, and participate in, the 13th World Championship in 1986, Sukhoi Design Bureau produced three Su-26M aeroplanes (S42-6; -7 and -8) in the first three months of 1986. The 13th World Championship witnessed all the USSR team pilots make their appearance on Su-26M aeroplanes for the first time. The Soviet pilots won with the Su-26M's both the men's and women's team prizes at the 1986 World Aerobatics Championships. The aeroplane amazed everybody with its performance and opened up a new way for the development of aeroplane sport. In June 1987, at the Paris Air Show, Sukhoi Design Bureau presented for the first time a Su-26M sports aeroplane (S42-9) on static display and in flight. In 1987, it was decided to set up mass production of Su-26Ms for DOSAAF. At the end of 1987, development of a production version started with the first four such machines built in the winter of 1989. The designers managed to reduce the weight of the production Su-26M by 30kg compared to that of its prototype, improve its aerodynamics and controllability through adjustments introduced into the fuselage and wing profiles, and improve engine cooling. This aeroplane passed official testing in February-June 1989 and was scheduled for deliveries to DOSAAF flying clubs. In May 1989, Aviaexport made the USSR's first contract for aircraft delivery to the USA, the aircraft in question being Su-26M sports aeroplanes, in 1990 followed by a contract for deliver of another 25 aeroplanes to the USA. The first flight of the plane's export version, Su-26MKh (Su-26MX in cyrillic alphabet), took place 28th March 1990. Su-26MKh differs from the baseline aeroplane Su-26 in that it has additional fuel tanks in the wing to increase its ferry range. Eleven Su-26MKh aeroplanes were delivered to users in the USA, Switzerland and other countries. The experience gained in operating the Su-26 indicated that in order to take full advantage of its capabilities, the pilot had to undergo intensive training in aerobatics, so the Design Bureau started to develop in 1991 a two-seat aerobatic aeroplane, the Su-29, meant for teaching, training and participation of pilots in aerobatics competitions, as well as for honing the flying skills of military and civil aviation pilots.

On 8 June 2005, Sukhoi Su-26M EC-HYU (ex RA-44542) was seen at Drachten airfield in the Netherlands, prior the Red Bull Air Race in Rotterdam. The Red Bull Air Race in Rotterdam was part of the Red Bull Air Race World Series 2005. The first match in the series was in Abu Dhabi in April, the second game was held in Rotterdam on 12 June 2005. After Rotterdam there were competitions in Austria (Zeltweg); Ireland (Rock of Cashel); Great Britain (Longleat); Hungary (Budapest) and the U.S.A. (San Francisco). The air race in Rotterdam was flown in two manches. Between start and finish a prescribed route was flown between large pylons, while compulsory acrobatic figures had to be flown. The start and finish of the Red Bull Air Race in Rotterdam was the passage under the Erasmus bridge. The ranking was obtained by total time, possibly increased by penalty time. Winner of the Red Bull Air Race in Rotterdam was Mike Mangold, pilot of the Edge 540 N540BW. Before the air race itself took place in Rotterdam, the participants in the Red Bull Air Race in Rotterdam had trained the prescribed route at Drachten airfield the days before. The aerobatics who participated in the air race were: CAP 232 F-GTOJ; Extra Fluzeugbau EA300S HA-RED; N8JX and N9K; Extra Fluzeugbau 300S D-EJKS; Extra Fluzeugbau 300L D-EZOZ; Sukhoi Su-26M EC-HYU; Zivko Aeronautics Edge 540 N540BW and N540HA. Support was provided by the Skymedia Agusta-Bell 206B JetRanger II HB-XPA. The Red Bull Air Race in Rotterdam was opened by Sea Vixen G-CVIX. During the race, the Heli-Holland AS.355-F2 Twin Star PH-HHJ was operated as camcopter for the film recordings from the sky.

page last updated 12-07-2008
Copyright © Jack Wolbrink, Emmen, the Netherlands

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