The Czech Air Force Welcomes New Gripen Display Pilot
The successor of Major Ivo Kardoš, Captain Ondřej Španko, has now passed certification to become the Czech Air Force's fifth Gripen display pilot.
The new Czech Air Force Gripen display pilot will perform his stunts at various air shows in the future including the NATO Days and the Air Force Days in Ostrava, and at the Aviation Days in Slovakia, Latvia and Hungary.
So far, besides Gripen, captain Španko has flew planes like Z-142 and L-39C/ZA. After a successful three-month retraining for the Gripen jet fighter in Sweden, he became a pilot of the prestigious 211th Tactical Squadron. He has also participated in the Baltic Air Policing mission in Estonia.
When it comes to the Gripen display pilot training process, it unfolds in multiple steps. At first, the pilot studies the height limit regulations, the safe distance limits from the spectators, and other safety principles. Only after completing this stage the pilot gets to move on to the next level where he or she spends hours training in a simulator before practising test displays at the airport.
According to Španko, performing an aerial display with Gripen is different as compared to other aircraft. "Features like a powerful engine, delta wings and the innate instability allow you to perform dynamic manoeuvres, which are unthinkable on a stable aircraft with a straight wings. During the demonstration, you can see manoeuvres normally reaching overloads from -3 to + 9G at speeds in the range of 200–1100 km/h,” he explains.
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