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.
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.
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?