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Ukrainian Falcons

Ukraine
Ukrainian Falcons badge

The “Ukrainian Falcons” were a Ukrainian Air Force aerobatic display team originally flying six blue, yellow, white and red colored MiG-29 fighters (5 MiG-29 9-13s and 1 MiG-29UB).

In May 1992, two Ukrainian Air Force MiG-29 fighters departed for North America to participate in the 100th anniversary celebration of Ukrainian immigration to America. Russamerica Airshow Incorporated (RAI), sponsored the tour and the both aircraft, one MiG-29A and one MiG-29UB, were transferred in a disassembled condition onboard an Antonov An-124 cargo plane to Canada. On May 8, the aircraft arrived at Namao Air Base, in Edmonton, Canada and were reassembled in a record time of just two days. On May 16, they flew for the first time at the same air base.

The name "Tridents" came about after the London, Ontario show, when an aviation magazine titled their article "Tridents on Tour", because of the trident symbol in the Ukrainian Air Force emblem, so the team received an unofficial name of "Ukrainian Tridents".

After 19 displays in Canada and USA, Russamerica Airshow Incorporated, which initiated the tour, and then disappeared, so the team and the liaison staff/escort pilots had to end the tour fending for themselves. The last show was on Sept 14, 1992 in Burlington, VT and the team and aircraft flew back to Ukraine on November 5, from Bangor Maine.

The Ukrainian “Tridents” tour had been accompanied by a Ukrainian delegation who watched the displays of US air demonstration squadrons, the “Thunderbirds” and the “Blue Angels” and the Canadian “Snowbirds”. Ukrainian Colonel Viktor Rososhansky was in that delegation and was impressed of the performance of these aerobatic teams and, as a result, he decided to create a similar team from Ukraine Air Force. It cost three years and lot of effort to convince the Ukrainian commanders that such a demonstration squadron was necessary both for the Ukrainian Air Force and for the Ukraine as a whole. He finally received permission to create a demonstration team and, in autumn of 1995, the “Ukrainian Falcons” were formed at Kirovs'ke Air Base.

In 1996, the team began training flights with L-39 Albatross jet trainers, but later, a decision was made to re-equip the team with more impressive MiG-29 jet fighters. This point marked the real establishment of the “Ukrainian Falcons”.

The leader of this team was test pilot, Colonel Viktor Rososhansky, and the other pilots were: Colonels Pavel Korolyov and Sergei Dudkin, Lt. Colonel Sergei Kovolyov, Majors Vladimir Toponar and Eduard Sotnikov.

Later, in the summer of 1996, during a barrel roll in a training flight, two of the planes, flown by S. Dudkin and P. Korolyov, collided in mid-air, damaging one of the aircraft’s wing and the tail of the other MiG-29. Both aircraft subsequently landed safely.

In 1997, the “Ukrainian Falcons” made their international debut at the Royal International Air Tattoo at RAF Fairford in the United Kingdom.

In March 1998, during practice flight, Colonel Sergei Dudkin crashed and died during a landing in bad weather conditions. Later that same year, Colonel Pavel Korolyov was forced to quit the team for a health reasons. In just one year, the “Ukrainian Falcons” had lost both pilots involved in the previous mid-air collision incident. Despite this setback, they continued 1998 season with two new pilots, Lt. Colonels Igor Ovchinnikov and Michail Lampik, and flew airshows both in the Ukraine and abroad.

In 2000, the team changed its paint scheme to a new version.

The team flew for the last time on October 5, 2001 and, in 2002, the “Ukrainian Falcons” were disbanded after Colonel Viktor Rososhansky retired from Air Force. But the main reason for the team's demise was the poor supply of fuel and spare parts from Ukrainian authorities for regular training flights.

During the “Ukrainian Falcons” existence, they demonstrated their skills in many different countries like the United Kingdom, Turkey, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Romania.

Major Vladimir Toponar was the pilot of a SU-27UB which crashed on July 27, 2002 at Sknyliv airshow, Lviv, Ukraine, killing 85 people and injuring more then 100. This was the worst ever air show disaster. Major Toponar was subsequently tried and pronounced guilty and sentenced to prison for 14 years.

In April 2008, Ukrainian President Victor Yushchenko suggested reforming the team again, but nothing further happened until 2011.

In 2011, the team was re-formed to fly L-39 Albatross jet trainers, but they never flew as an aerobatic team and were disbanded.

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