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Reaching for the sky

A popular performer is returning to the 2013 Oregon International Air Show — Renny Price and his purple and white stunt plane.

This will be Price’s 15th consecutive appearance at the show, which run July 26-28 at the Hillsboro Airport. Price jokes that he keeps being asked back because he lives in Tualatin.

“It’s because I live so close,” said Price, who will be the only local stunt pilot at the show.by: TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - At his hangar in Aurora, Renny Price - a stunt pilot from Tualatin - looks at the engine of the Russian-built Sukhoi-29 plane he uses for air shows. Price will again be participating in this years Oregon International Air Show in Hillsboro.

But in fact, Price is invited to perform at many air shows every summer because of his skill flying the Sukhoi-29 — an aircraft designed and built in Russia and considered by many to be the best two-seat unlimited competition aircraft in the world today.

“It was built to set records,” Price said of the plane.

The Su-29, as it is commonly called, is fully capable of all the graceful classic stunts that have been developed over the years, plus loops with snaps on top, inside-outside snaps, torque rolls, tumbles and flat spins. Price says his show will include steep climbs, deliberate stalls and pinwheel maneuvers where the plane spins like the child’s toy.

“What’s not to like?” Price asked about stunt flying. “You get to have all this fun and meet all these great people at air shows. And at the end of the day, they tell you how good your flying was.”

A retired airline captain, Price has logged more than 23,000 hours since his first flight in 1969. He holds FAA ratings of airline transport pilot, flight engineer, multi-engine instrument flight instructor, aerobatic competency evaluator, and FAA safety counselor. When he is not performing at air shows, he flies an Astra private jet.

Price began aerobatic flying in 1995 because airline piloting was frequently boring.

“It’s not very exciting. You go from point A to point B, and so much is built around autopilots these days,” explained Price. “With aerobatic flying, you can make the plane do everything it was designed to do.”

Price bought his Su-29 in 1998 because of its performance potential. It is based at a hangar at the Aurora State Airport, where Price operates his business, Hammerhead Aerobatics. In addition to flying air shows, he occasionally uses the plane to teach stunt flying to other pilots.

The Su-29 is 24 feet long, has a 27-foot wingspan and is powered by a supercharged nine-cylinder radial engine that produces 360 horsepower. The engine was developed for military purposes and has been fitted in light transport planes and tanks, and even used as a portable generator.

“It’s a military engine in a civilian aircraft,” said Price.

Because of the extensive use of composite materials, the Su-29 weighs just 1,738 pounds and has a top speed of 240 knots. Price says it is much more responsive than similar-sized aircraft, allowing it to perform the spectacular stunts that thrill air show audiences.

Price said when he’s not flying, his other interests include hunting, fishing with his wife and kids, guitars and baseball.



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