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This Russian Woman Is One Hell of A Pilot

Svetlana Kapanina Throws Her Sukhoi Around The Sky Like A Boss

Svetlana Vladimirovna Kapanina is the closest thing to famous lady aerobatic pilot they have in Eastern Europe. Born in what is now Kazakhstan in 1968, she enrolled in medical school at Tselinograd (now Astana), where she graduated with a Degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences. She has been flying in aerobatic competitions since 1988 when she was 19 years old. After only two years she became an instructor. Svetlana is a graduate of the highly-respected Kaluga Aeronautical Technical School (think Embry-Riddle in the States). She flies the Sukhoi Su-26M and Su-31M and the Extra 300 and 330 aerobatic aircraft in competition.

Photo Credit: Aleksandr Markin

Svetlana’s impressive list of accomplishments includes 67 Gold, 21 Silver, and 12 Bronze World, European, and Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI) Medals, 17 European Championships, three Absolute European Championships, two Russian Women’s Championships, seven Absolute World Championships, two Absolute World Air Games Championships, and 38 other World Championships between 1996 and 2013. She has received the Sabiha Gokcen and Centenary Medals as well as the Paul Tissandier Diploma from the FAI and was awarded Russia’s Order of Courage by President Vladimir Putin on December 22nd 2014. Today Svetlana is married and lives in Moscow with her husband and two children. This video of her throwing her Sukhoi around the sky was recorded during an aerobatic performance at Sochi- site of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

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Written by Bill Walton

Bill Walton

Bill Walton is a life-long aviation enthusiast and expert in aircraft recognition. As a teenager Bill helped his engineer father build an award-winning T-18 homebuilt airplane in their Wisconsin basement. Bill is a freelance writer, an avid sailor, engineer, announcer, husband, father, uncle, mentor, coach, and Navy veteran. Bill lives north of Houston TX with his wife and son under the approach path to KDWH runway 17R, which means they get to look up at a lot of airplanes. A very good thing.