Air display books plane that can fly backwards

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The Antonov AN-2, also affectionately known as the ‘Annie’, is the world’s biggest single-engined biplane and is known for its ability to fly at very low speeds and take off and land on very short runways.

According to pilots who have flown the aircraft, if flying into a 35 mph headwind at the plane’s minimum speed of 30 mph, the plane will fly backwards at a speed of 5 mph.

Mike Higgins, organiser of the International Air Display, said that the aircraft was a ‘firm favourite’ among his event’s attendees.

‘People really like the AN-2, mainly because it can fly exceptionally slowly,’ he said.

‘If in darkness or cloud and the engine stops, the pilot can pull the stick right back and the leading edge slats [at the front of the wing] will snap open at 40 mph.

‘Once it slows down enough, the aircraft will then fall at a slow, parachute rate of descent until it hits the ground. It is quite impressive.’

The AN-2 was used in military service by a number a number of groups, including the Vietnamese People’s Air Force, who used it as an attack aircraft.

The Croatian Air Force also converted several of the planes, which were previously crop sprayers, to be capable of dropping ‘boiler bombs’ on opposing forces during the Croatian War of Independence, which
lasted from 1991 until 1995.

Around 20,000 AN-2 models have been produced in Russia, Poland and China.

The aircraft taking part in this year’s display is based near Brackley in Northamptonshire.

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