Jersey International Air Display

Death of World Renowned Test Pilot who dazzled crowds in Jersey

The death of a former pilot whose unique and dazzling aerobatic routine wowed crowds in the 1999 Jersey International Air Display and helped turn the Jersey event into a truly international air display has been announced.

Anatoly Kvochur, world renowned Soviet, later Russian, test pilot died at the age of 71 following a long illness on April 16, 2024. One day before his 72nd birthday.

He graduated from the Fedotov Test Pilot School at Zhukovsky in 1978 and went on to test and evaluate more than 90 different aircraft types across his career, set countless long endurance records, carry out research programmes in aerial refuelling, weaponry, cockpit design, super-manoeuvrability and aviation medicine, among others. He was bestowed the award of Honoured Test Pilot of the USSR in 1990.

A Hero of the Russian Federation, Kvochur was noted for his fast jet displays across the world during the 1980s, 1990s, and 2000s in a host of Russian types, including the Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker as the leader of the two-ship Test Pilots Team, from the Gromov Flying Research Institute based at Zhukovsky near Moscow

Su-27 landing in Jersey after displaying. Photo courtesy of Frank Hawksworth

In Jersey he demonstrated a solo Sukhoi Su-27 Flanker fighter jet which resembled a Klingon starship over St Aubins’s Bay. Wowing the crowd with a demonstration of the then unique Cobra maneouvre used by the Su-27 to cause a pursuing fighter to overshoot his aircraft and enable him to reverse roles and enter into a shooting position on his opponent. This entailed a rapid de-acceleration of his aircraft akin to an emergency stop in a car. It was achieved by snapping the throttles closed and pulling the control stick back 90 degrees to the horizontal causing the aircraft’s belly to face the oncoming airflow and the resulting drag almost bringing the aircraft to an almost a complete halt. This was followed by a quick pitch of the nose forward and opening the throttle. The manoeuvre looked very much like a Cobra snake standing on its tail and then lunging forward at its prey – hence its name. Whereas the manoeuvre could cause many Western aircraft to flame out the unique air intake arrangements on the Su-27 facilitated the manoeuvre.

Other lasting memories were his low level flight from West Park to St Aubins village which resembled two sharks racing each other across the Bay because all that could be seen by the crowd further away from the sea wall were the aircraft’s two vertical fins showing above the sea wall, and later his aileron roll over the runway at 50 feet on his departure to Moscow after the air show. His aircraft crammed full of Camel cigarettes and other gifts and souvenirs.

Elsewhere, he was best remembered for his spectacular low-level ejection from a MiG-29 Fulcrum jet fighter following a birdstrike while displaying the then latest Russian fighter to the world at the Paris Air Show on June 8, 1989. He managed to steer the stricken jet away from the crowd before ejecting just 2.5 seconds before it hit the ground. The back injuries he sustained in this crash troubled him throughout his later flying career.

He continued to fly fast jets until the age of 65, logging some 4,800 hours of which more than 3,000 were during test flights.