Interview – Lt. Rafal ‘PINEK’ Pinkowski – MiG-29 Demo Team

Lt. Rafał Pinkowski. My carrer in Polish Air Force (PAF) started in 2006 when I joined Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin. I graduated in 2011 and I was directed to 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork where I started my flights on MiG-29. In 2016 I was selected as a display pilot. I am currently a pilot in 22nd Tactical Air Base in Malbork with a 800 flying hours includning aircrafts like turboprop trainer PZL-130 ORLIK, TS-11 ISKRA and MiG-29.

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Tell us your personall experience of the MiG-29. It is known that it is a big and strong jet.

As far as I remeber I wanted to fly jet aircrafts and MiG-29 was on my list of top aircrafts. First experience after flight on Fulcrum was unbelivable – unfinite power and amaizing manouverbility – that words simply describes flying on that jet. Adding to it great handling characteristics makes this aircraft easy to fly and gives you a lot of pleasure and fun.

How many people help you during an airshow?

During airshows our Demo Team consists of 15 person including ground crew, instructor pilot and display pilot.

When do you start to prepare for the season? Do you try to change the program every year, try to ad something new? My preparations started at the end of 2016. It was time to sum up last season and write down all lessons learned. That is also a time to improve program and change sth or add sth new for next season.

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Can you share us, where will the solo display perform for the 2017 season?

Except of many displays in Poland I will start flying abroad. My first display will be in Romania on July. In schedule there are also displays in Belgium, Greece and Spain.

The MiG-29 is welcomed every time during airshows, mostly on the west part of Europe.

That is right. It is a rare aircraft especially in western Europe and everytime we took part in displays it was huge interest on MiG-29.COPYRIGHT © Polish Air Force

Do you meet people before or after your program? What are the reactions to you from the fans?

After each display I try to find few minutes to meet with viewers and fans. Mostly they congratulate me, say a few warm words after display and want to make common pictures.

Your favourite memory as a solo display pilot?

My favourite moment was when I finished my training as a display pilot and I get display pilot path from my solo display instructor Colonel Piotr Iwaszko “Kuman” . That was the moment when my biggest dream came true .

When you perform at an airshow where there are other solo displays as well, do you talk with the pilots? Do you change ideas with each other?

Of course. We are trying to share experiences – this good one and bad one as well. At the begining of this year I took part in European Airshow Council Convention 2017 in Malta where a lot of display pilots from different countries have oportunity to talk face to face and exchange experiences and lessons learned from last years.COPYRIGHT © Polish Air Force

If one day the Air Force would say…you can choose any airshow to participate, which one would it be?

ILA Berlin 🙂

Do you have a favourite solo demo from Europe?

Rafale Solo Display 🙂 I like this aircraft and I have oportunity to fly together with French pilots during they stay in Poland.

Thank you for your answers. Any final words to our readers?

I hope you enjoyed interview and I wish you many afterburners during airshows 😉