When studying astrophysics at the old Vilnius University, I also learned aerobatic flying. After graduation, I took up research work, but two years later I was invited to work as a pilot instructor in Vilnius aero club. With an aching heart did I bid farewell to the stars and began teaching young people to fly.
Nevertheless, I spent the best, most meaningful and happiest years of my life at the aero club. One of my first student pilots Žydrė became my beloved wife (we have a sun, Saulius, and a daughter, Vakarė). I taught many young people to fly, was a member of the national aerobatic team, participated in the competitions held in Lithuania and the former Soviet Union, and in 1985, together with Rolandas Paksas and Leonas Jonys, decided to form an aerobatic team.
Then a new period of aerobatic performance followed, very interesting, intense, requiring much energy and enormous dedication, but also giving immense pleasure and joy. Despite some breaks, it has continued until the present day.
Unfortunately, Leonas passed away some years ago. Algimantas Žentelis, head of Kaunas Aeroclub and experienced master of aerobatics, replaced him on the left wing of the formation. We finished our last year performance programme with a successful flight under the bridge over the River Nemunas in Druskininkai, a health resort located in the south of Lithuania. The flight was dedicated to the warm memory of our friend Leonas Jonys. Together with him we had flown under another bridge in 2002.
There was a certain period of time when we did not fly because Leonas was not with us. It was the third passion of my life – passion for mountain climbing and travelling together with my family – that did fill the void. I am happy that peak Cho Oyu (8201 m) in the Himalayas, the sixth highest mountain in the world, is on the list of the mountains I have climbed.
I am most thankful to my family for their understanding of my risky hobbies and allowing me to make my dreams true. And deep in my heart I always feel gratitude to my Guardian Angel.
I am happy to have a great opportunity to meet like-minded pilots from various countries in April in China. Sincere thanks to the initiators and organisers of the 1st Formation Aerobatic Championship.