Flying Bulls seek to do the impossible

Czech-based aerobatic team is always looking to push the envelope

The Flying Bulls are the only aerobatic team in the Czech Republic. The team of four pilots plus a manager and a mechanic fly in airshows across Europe and sometimes further, doing what they characterize as “impossible maneuvers.”

And they don't want to do the same show over and over. “The biggest challenge is when we start to make new maneuvers,” said Flying Bulls team leader Stanislav Čejka. The team does not want to just make adjustments to the existing aerial tricks, but create “newer and newer maneuvers, and change them again.”

The process is hands on. They don't use computer simulations or even a pen and paper. “First we plan it in our heads and then since I am the leader I will try it alone and after that the guys fly with me and try it,” Čejka said.

The team then takes it step by step, at first keeping a bit more distance. “We are trying to be safe because we are creating new maneuvers that nobody in the world is flying in formation,” he said.

At the most, it takes two months to perfect a new maneuver, trying it out in 15 minute training flights for a total of two or three hours. After they can do it perfectly two or three times, it can be added to the show. The team has 38 maneuvers it can do.

Currently the team uses XtremeAir XA 42 planes that have undergone 15 modifications, and with 315 horsepower, the planes are among the fastest for aerobatic flying. The planes have a full range of 1,500 km but in a 15-minute show the team flies some 70 kilometers, reaching a height of 700 meters and a maximum speed of 420 km/h.

There are two ways to become involved in aerobatic flying, Čejka said. One route is through military training, and the other is through civilian flying clubs. The Flying Bulls team has members from both backgrounds.

Čejka is currently also in the Czech Air Force, where he flies Gripen fighter jets, and he says the two types of planes are quite different. The Gripen uses what is called a digital fly-by-wire system to use computers to maintain stability. The XA 42 planes are manual.

“The difference is the same as between a car and a motorbike, but there is no problem to fly both,” he said.

Čejka in his spare time is a member of a search and rescue dog team and has a motto of “Enjoy the happiness of every day.” He says he wanted to be a pilot since he was 2 years old.

The youngest member of the Flying Bulls is also is in the Air Force. Jan Tvrdík flies slot and is also the team comedian. He also flies the L159 Alca, L39 Albatross, as well as other planes.

Aside from reaching heights in planes, he enjoys doing it by foot, with mountain climbing as one of his hobbies. He claims the most important thing in life, flying and sports is to behave with honor.

A oldest member of the team also has military experience, but as a weapon specialist technician in communist era. Miroslav Krejčí, born in 1958, got into aerobatics because, as he says, he was “in the right place at the right time.” He has been on the team for 19 years, even before Red Bull became the sponsor. His first air show was June 1, 1997. “They told me to try it,” he said. When not flying aerobatics, he works in the IT sector. In the Fling Bulls, Krejčí is in the right wing position.

He lists his hobbies as remote controlled helicopters and riding a recumbent bike, and gives his life motto as “Stop griping and instead do something.”

The final team member Jan Rudzinskyj, who flies left wing. He says he is an adventurer inspired by the films of Jean-Paul Belmondo. Aside from flying he enjoys martial arts and wants to see the whole picture from above and share the beauty of flying with everyone.

He also enjoys flying historical planes and counts the Bücker Bü 131 biplane from the 1930s as one of his favorites. Unlike the others, he has no military background and came to the Flying Bulls as a civilian hobby pilot.

The Flying Bulls history goes back to 1958, long before Red Bull existed. The aerobatic team began at Aeroclub Chrudim, and had its first public show in 1961.In 1964 the team became known as Box Trenér and in 1993 became NTC Skybox. Founder Jiří Tlustý retired in 2001, and that same year the team name changed to Flying Bulls. The team had its last airshow with the 1970s vintage Zlin Z-50 aerobatics planes in 2014 and acquired its current XtremeAir XA 42 fleet at that time.

The Flying Bulls Aerobatics Team

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