The Truth About The Maneuver Pugachev’s Cobra

The Truth About The Maneuver Pugachev’s Cobra | World War Wings Videos

Flickr CC / Robert Sullivan

More Than a Name

When Soviet test pilot Viktor Pugachev stunned the audience at the Paris Air Show in 1989 by pulling up the nose of his Su-27 to a nearly vertical angle and back down again, he was forever associated with this uniquely challenging maneuver that became known as the Pugachev’s Cobra. 

Wikimedia Commons / Nicola F.

But did you know that it wasn’t Pugachev himself who first managed to pull off this maneuver? The maneuver was first done by his partner, Igor Volk, who became the first Soviet pilot to introduce this kind of dynamic braking.

Regardless, the Cobra Maneuver has been used in Sweden for decades. When the first Saab 35 Drakens flew during the late 1950s, they found out that the aircraft’s double delta wings made it extremely unstable. During landings, the J-35 would enter a super stall – from which the pilots wouldn’t be able to recover.

Flickr CC / Robert Sullivan

As a solution, Swedish pilots utilized the Draken’s airframe as an air brake, letting them gain control quickly. Nevertheless, we still call this maneuver the Pugachev’s cobra up to this day. 

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