A time-lapse picture demonstrating the aerobatic maneuver Pugachev's Cobra.
About this creation
I decided to put my micro-scale (1:200) Su-27 Flanker model to good use to demonstrate the famous aerobatic maneuver known as Pugachev's Cobra. This maneuver is performed by pitching the nose up until the angle of attack reaches 90 degrees (or sometimes even a little more than 90 degrees), using the aircraft's thrust to remain aloft while in the vertical position, and then finally centering the elevators to create drag in the tail to return to a horizontal position. The maneuver requires quite a bit of skill on the part of the pilot and an aircraft with a good thrust-to-weight ratio. Although they are not required to perform the maneuver, vectored thrust nozzles make it easier to do. The Cobra is next to useless in air combat, but it looks pretty impressive at an air show.
The maneuver was first performed publicly by Viktor Pugachev (thus its name), but the very first one to perform the maneuver was test pilot and cosmonaut Igor Volk, who was involved with the Soviet Buran space shuttle program. Only a handful of aircraft are capable of performing the maneuver, including the Su-27, the Mig-29, the F-22 Raptor, special experimental versions of the F-15 and F-16, and, oddly enough, the almost 60 year old Saab 35 Draken.
Nice work! Also, I did see a video, a while ago, showing an F-18 doing a Cobra. It didn't appear to be doctored or anything, and I also read on a few forums that skilled Hornet pilots can pull that maneuver, though it's extremely difficult.
All that said, nowadays, I can't really see the use of the Cobra maneuver that much. I mean, in dog fights, it's great, but it's very uncommon nowadays...