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Ace

June 2, 2003
Non-standard solutions of hero pilot Alexander Pokryshkin.

Fighter pilots have always been the aviation elite. An air combat requires quick reaction, excellent navigation skills and accuracy of fire. In addition, a real fighter pilot an ace is persistent, courageous, recollected and quick-witted.
Alexander Pokryshkin, a fighter pilot, fought for his country throughout the Second World War, won many victories and was awarded the title of the Hero of the Soviet Union three times. His memoirs and the recollections of his companions in arms point first of all at his permanent search for non-standard fighting techniques unexpected for the enemy. There were fids of them.
For instance, Pokryshkin noted that the training of young pilots always starts with flying round. And both at Soviet and at German flying schools, planes flew anticlockwise. That was quite natural because due to the peculiarities of a human body a left turn is much easier for a pilot. A kind of conditioned reflex was formed when in danger, the pilot tried to escape by making a left turn. Pokryshkin himself used a simple and brilliant method: to escape from a danger in case of a sudden attack, he instantly made a right turn thus disorientating the enemy.
Another one of his “introduced” solutions is connected with the technique of patrolling over objects being shielded. Usually, pilots circled at a height of two kilometers, airplanes flew at a so-called “economical” speed, when the engine consumes the minimal amount of fuel. What was wrong? In case of a sudden appearance of an enemy, it was necessary to gain altitude or speed in order to deal with an attack. And there was often no time for that. Patrolling at the height of three or four kilometers gave good opportunities for dealing with an attack, but it was not easy to notice the enemy's airplanes against the background of the land.
To solve this contradiction, Pokryshkin proposed a so-called “pendulum patrolling”. A couple of airplanes accelerated and rose to a considerable height. Then, at the top point, the airplanes made a sharp turn and dived. Having passed above the shielded object at a maximal speed and having looked around, the pilots repeated the cycle. The situation improved abruptly for the shielding airplanes, because they had an advantage in speed and height over the attacking enemy and could efficiently repel an attack. It is interesting that fuel consumption practically did not increase because a plane moved in a huge arc and coasted half of the way.

 

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Authors: Nikolay Shpakovsky, Elena Novitskaya