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Sukhoi  Su-30MK Crash Mars First Day of Le Bourget, June 12, 1999


by Vladmir Karnozov and Rebecca Rayko

The oohs and aahs of an amazed crowd of spectators during the flying display of the Sukhoi Su-30MK abruptly quieted this afternoon upon seeing something go terribly wrong for the Russian-built fighter jet.

Coming down from a "controllable" spin maneuver, the Su-30MK broke through the 1,000-foot altitude restriction mandated by air show officials. Pilots were able to recover the jet at a nose-high attitude but weren't able to break the descent rate. Onlookers saw the famed thrust vectoring afterburner nozzles of the Su-30MK burst into flame as they dragged on the ground as the pilots tried desperately to gain altitude.

The crowd, comprised mostly of press members like us, watched in disbelief as the jet which just minutes before had amazed us with its maneuverability could only climb little more than a hundred feet. It began to bank left, but the trail of fire made it obvious to onlookers that the jet was severely damaged and headed for the ground. As it gained its greatest height during the brief climb two ejection seats sprouting parachutes flew away from the flaming jet. The Sukhoi then careened over and dashed into the ground in a fireball. The aircraft was a complete loss, but from our vantage point alongside Runway 3 we could see the two pilots walk away from the wreckage.

This first prototype of the Su-30MK fighter, Blue 01, was piloted by Sukhoi design bureau's Slava Averianov and Igor Votintsev. Fortunately they were able to eject using the Zvezda K-36D3,5 seats.


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