Until now they were only substitutes for a big and world-famous aerobatics group ‘The Flying Bulls Aerobatic team’, but now the pilots Stanislav Čejka and Jan Rudzinskij will turn heads at air shows together with Miroslav Krejci, long time member of the team. And attention: they have swapped the ‘classic’ aerobatics aeroplane Zlín 50 LX in this season for a new XtremeAir XA42, which Rudzinskij showers with praise, “It’s a bombshell! It is like driving a good sports car and then getting into a Formula 1. The difference is really enormous.”
The aeroplane has an engine with an output of 315 horses, which makes it one of the most powerful machines in aerobatics. Its maximum speed is around 220 knots (approximately 420 kph). “These machines are extremely fast, which may not be always an advantage during an appearance because one can vanish very fast from sight. What is more, old planes were control by a movement of the hand and those we use now are so sensitive that micro-motions of the wrist. We have to get them into our blood,” says Rudzinskij. There is one advantage, however, that in a new machine the pilot in the cockpit is better informed of what is happening in the aeroplane.
They all are training in aeroplanes whose design incorporates Czech flags on the engine and the nose, preparing a figure with which they will introduce themselves to the public. They do not want to give away the full scenario but one part of the figure will be in a close group where ‘The Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team’ fly beneath each other to the accompaniment of music. Elements of solo aerobatics are naturally present. “We will broaden the figure to exploit the possibilities of the new planes to prepare more challenging elements,” says Stanislav Čejka. Part of the performance is a favourite stunt where they draw a heart on the sky with artificial smoke. They also perform unique manoeuvre that is a speciality of Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team for decades – THE MIRROR AEROBATICS. The flying routine has been modified to meet the requirements of the new airplanes, it still follows the tradition of the extremely closed formation, but also presents new choreography of the whole display. In the beginning of 2015 season the team flies with 3 airplanes.
The most daring feat in group aerobatics is the mirror flight with the leading aircraft flies upside down immediately above a second aircraft which flies right side up, mirroring the leading aircraft’s flight figure. Will Čejka and Rudzinskij? Whereas last year the Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team flew the last 2014 season on ZLIN 50LX aircraft, 2015 season brings appearance of the new pilot faces and new aircraft type.
The Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team consists of very experienced pilots. Formation leader Stanislav Čejka (36) who replaced famous female formation leader Radka Machova got to flying the traditional way when he started at the age of sixteen with gliders. Then he added powered flying and later decided to go in for aerobatics. He was the national champion, took part in the European championship, and flying is now his source of livelihood. He is a military pilot flying the JAS-39 Gripen fighter. "In terms of work it is super,” says the lieutenant who serves at the air force base in Čáslav. It is probably no coincidence that Martin Šonka, the only Czech participant in the prestigious series Red Bull Air Race served with the same unit. He also flew a Gripen. Čejka says in explanation that, "The two types of flying complement each other. The more you fly in a fighter, the better you find your bearings in the air, which is carried over to aerobatics. You don’t have to think how to move in space. What matters in aerobatics is fine control of the aeroplane, which allows you, when you’re in a fighter, not to think of the joystick only and you can concentrate on other things, such as control of the aeroplane systems.”
The initial stages of Jan Rudzinskij (45) were a little more complicated. He too wanted to start with a glider but... “The communists thought that I wasn’t a suitable candidate and I might fly the Blaník to the imperialist camp.” His chance only came his way after 1989. “As soon as I earned some money I got into it and very quickly I got to acrobatics” Apart from the ‘The Flying Bulls Aerobatic Duo’ he performs at air shows with his biplane. On one such day he experienced the worst moments of his life in 2006. During an air show in Bratislava, when he enacted in his biplane a scene from the First World War, he collided with his colleague head on and a nasty fall from 50 metres followed. “I spent five months in treatment and during that time I said to myself perhaps it was a warning sign that I should pack it in. Then I came to the conclusion that it was my fault and three months later I sat in a plane again with an instructor. My goal was to fly again and this speeded up my recovery,” says the man who was for years the joint owner of an advertising agency which he recently sold. “Now I am waiting to see what turns up.” Jan replaced excellent Jiri Saller on left wing position.
Miroslav Krejci (59), the only pilot left from previous staff of Flying Bulls Aerobatic Team is an ex member of Czech national team in precision flying and he took over the role of the team mentor. The formation ‘The Flying Bulls Aerobatic team’ was always regarded as the best aerobatics group in the world. They can perform so close to one another as if it were a single aeroplane. All the members of the team are Czechs. The previous staffing of the team was has been Radka Máchová (66), formation leader since 2002 to 2015, the left wing was Jiří Saller (62), the right one Miroslav Krejčí (59) and the slot position belonged to Jiří Vepřek (54). ‘The Flying Bulls’ used Zlín 50 LX aeroplanes for their aerobatics.