Jeff Ethell: "So then Igor said, `Here, let me take it.' We went down
into a riverbed, and I mean so low that we could see the distinct trees coming
by on either side of the riverbank. Then we followed the bends of the river.
We did some 90 degree turns which required us to push the power up and use the
maneuverability of the airplane. The capability is to turn very fast, very
tight, low, and that's an important ability for evading enemy aircraft fire."
This test footage shows the Russian ejection seat in action, which
Russians believe is one of the best in the world. The seat straps down the
test pilots arms and legs and ejects them away from the jet with a force of 20
Jeff Ethell: "We just pointed the nose up, went into afterburner, and
punched through the cloud deck. And the first thing we started to do was a
series of rolls. Igor would demonstrate a left and a right roll, then he would
let me do it."
Paris Air Show Crash
This MIG-29 heads towards the ground at the Paris air show of 1989.
With less than 300 feet remaining, test pilot Anatoli Kvotchur ejects himself
from the crippled jet, and miraculously, walks away unharmed.
This archival footage depicts a Russian pilot undergoing tests to
determine the effects of G-forces on the human body. Russian pilots were some
of the first in the world to undergo this kind of testing.
Jeff Ethell: "I said I would like to do a few rolls. Igor said, `Fine we'll
just do them by the runway. We'll come down and then I want you to roll it and
pitch up in a half loop for landing.' If you did this at an American airbase
you wouldn't have your career left. So here we come roaring across the runway,
I mean zipping along, and I figure I'm pretty low and he says, `You're not low
enough.' So I bump the stick a little bit forward and down we come and I mean
we were low."