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The Russian Knights are an aerobatic demonstration team of the Russian Air Force. Originally formed on April 5, 1991 at the Kubinka Air Base as a team of six Sukhoi Su-27s, the team was the first to perform outside the Soviet Union in September 1991 when they toured the United Kingdom. The Kubinka air force base located 60 km west of Moscow is well known both in Russia and abroad. For years, it has been known as the Air Force installation used for demonstrating advanced combat aircraft to national and foreign leaders. Kubinka AFB's personnel were the first Soviet pilots to fly jet fighters in solo and group aerobatics; as early back as on May 1, 1946 Kubinka aces made their overflight of the Red Square as part of air parade formation. Nowadays, Kubinka AFB is known as the best aerobatics school where the Russian Knights and Swifts aerobatics teams are stationed. Meanwhile, Kubinka is a major base of the Russian Air Force in the Moscow region. Early in 1991, the six-aircraft aerobatics team was set up. The leader was Vladimir Basov, left wingman - Aleksandr Dyatlov, right wingman - Sergei Ganichev, tail-end charlie - Vladimir Bukin, outer left wingman - Vladimir Bazhenov and outer right wingman - Aleksandr Lichkun. The first foreign tour was to be made to the UK. A decision was made to find a designation for the new unit, devise an emblem, have flight suits made and devise the paint job for the fighters. Thus, on April 5, 1991, the Russian Knights came into being. As early as September 1991, the Russian Knights flew to the United Kingdom. Then came the tours of Malaysia, the US, France, the Netherlands, Canada, Slovakia, Belgium, Luxembourg. Everywhere the Russian Knights would earn the applause of the public. This was the case at another Malaysian air show, too, in December 1995. On December 12, 1995, when approaching the Kam Ranh airfield (Vietnam) in adverse weather for refuelling, three fighters of the Russian Knights team flew into a mountain, due to unsatisfactory leadership of those in charge. Guards Colonel Boris Grigoryev, Guards Lieutenant-Colonels Nikolai Grechanov, Nikolai Kordyukov and Aleksandr Syrovoy were killed as a result of the crash. The pilots were buried at the cemetery of the Village of Nikolskoye (vic. Kubinka AFB). In October 1996, a monument was installed on the grave of the Russian Knights who were lost. On August 16, 2009, two Su-27s rehearsing acrobatic maneuvers collided near Moscow, killing one pilot and sending the jets crashing into nearby vacation homes, a military official said. The dead pilot was identified as the Russian Knights' commander, Guards Colonel Igor Tkachenko, a decorated air force officer. [READ THE REST OF THIS ARTICLE]
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