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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Celebration in the Sky as the Air Force Turns 95

MONINO, Moscow Region -- A combination of aviation enthusiasts, war veterans and patriots gave up their Saturday mornings to celebrate the 95th anniversary of the Air Force by attending an air show at Monino air field.

Some 30,000 people came to the event, which Air Force chief Alexander Zelin said he saw as training for an air show for the next Victory Day celebration to be held in Red Square, RIA-Novosti reported.

In the warm up to the show, guests were treated to live music from a military band, children were allowed to climb into airplane models usually marked off for display and stalls sold toy airplanes, party wigs and military hats. The crowd had a chance to sample army cooking served straight out of an iron stove in 20-kilogram quantities.

Larissa Mirgorodskaya, 30, brought her two children and settled on an inflatable mattress in front of the airfield an hour before the show.

"I really wanted to show the grand tradition of our fighter pilots to these guys," she said, nodding toward her son and daughter.

"I haven't seen it myself, but its even more exciting for them; this is the first time during the summer that they have woken up before me."

Colonel Ivan Makarenko, 89, a pilot in World War II, attended the event in his dark blue uniform illuminated with brightly colored ribbons and gold badges.

"I just posed next to a Yak-9, one of the models I flew and for which I was awarded my second honor," he said. "I am old, I don't come to these things too often, but I really like watching the grace of the fighter planes."

More seasoned air show attendees like Sergei Misailov, 52, were also there Saturday.

"This is my eighth air show, I love anything that can fly, but it's the hardcore tricks by the pilot group Strizhi that I am excited about. I woke up at 4 a.m. to see them," he said, with a beer in one hand and a professional camera in another.

The show started slowly, with minimum theatrics as various planes zoomed past. The crowd waved flags and cheered when favorites like the supersonic Tu-160 appeared.

An Il-78, a refueling pod, flew with its fuel pipe exposed between Su-27 jets in a mock refuel, then repeated the display with two Tu-95 planes.

But it was when the helicopters came in that things got exciting. The audience moved forward to see the Ka-50, known to fans as the black shark as it flew on its side, spinning the blades of its twin propeller towards the audience, and then flew backwards in a mid-air moonwalk.

The helicopter displayed how it could rotate on the spot without losing altitude, then went higher up into the sky in a tight corkscrew. The Ka-50 tilted its nose up and down in a bow before disappearing.

A moment of silence followed the helicopter acrobatics, the crowd looked around to see if the show was over before six pale blue Su-27 planes flew down in a triangle formation, fireworks exploded as the planes rushed past, leaving behind a trail of black smoke.

The six planes returned, shot up into the sky, then simultaneously somersaulted, revealing a red bird painted on the blue underbelly.

"This is exactly what I came to see," said Misailov to his younger friends as he clicked away with his camera.

More stunts followed. Two MiG-29 planes flew toward each other threatening to collide, but parted at the critical moment, just two meters apart, revolving their bodies 360 degrees before flying away in separate directions. Five of the same models then flew in and rotated on their own axis simultaneously, while keeping their arrow formation intact, in a maneuver called the barrel. Another plane shot up vertically, freefalling back with its engines turned down.

For the finale, the sky erupted with parachutists. Six drifted down hands held in star formation; four descended together with parachutes open, stacked on top of each other; and the last three came down piled together with a forth man dangling, secured by just his feet.

A parachutist in red, blue and white slowed down midair and moved his legs in a cycling motion as he approached the ground, drawing wild applause from the crowd.

Makarenko liked the show, but for him it was about the planes not the stunts. "What I am proud of the most is that everything you have just seen here was made in the Soviet Union; Russia has not produced anything decent since then," he said.

Photographs by Vladimir Filonov.

Vladimir Filonov

Two MiG-29s flying head-to-head, cutting away only 2 meters from each other.

Vladimir Filonov

World War II veteran Colonel Ivan Makarenko says he posed next to a Yak-9.

Vladimir Filonov

A man stirring 20 kilograms of buckwheat in an iron stove to serve for lunch.

Vladimir Filonov

A group of parachutists putting the finishing touch on the air show to celebrate the Air Force's 95th anniversary at the Monino airfield on Saturday. Some 30,000 spectators came out to see the show.

Vladimir Filonov

Children climbing around inside the cockpit of one of the antique jets that were on display for visitors at the show.

Vladimir Filonov

Two MiG-29 jets, piloted by members of the Strizhi flight group, flying through flares and leaving a trail of smoke.

Vladimir Filonov

Maneuvering by a twin-propellered Ka-50, known as the Chyornaya Akula, or Black Shark, got the crowd on its feet.

Vladimir Filonov

An Il-78 plane flying between two Su-24s, in a mock midair refueling, a move that was then repeated with two Su-27s.