Fighter aviation in Brazil is turning 74, and Ayrton Senna also had the chance to feel what it was like to fly in one of these powerful machines. In 1989, the racecar driver was invited by the Brazilian Air Force (FAB) to take part in an experimental flight in Anápolis, in the state of Goiânia, under supervision of Colonel Alberto de Paiva Côrtes. Ayrton had already flown in a fighter jet in 1987, in Rio de Janeiro, but this time the event would be covered by the media, including TV cameras.
The flight took place on March 29, 1989, six months after Senna won his first F1 world title. The plane was a Mirage III, F-103 D model, which featured advanced components for the time, like an ejection seat, as well as a reliable oxygen and communications system for the pilot and the copilot – who would be Senna.
The jet, designed in 1972 and discontinued in 2005, was able to reach 2,350 kmh (1,460 mph) and the one flown by Senna is on display at the Rio de Janeiro Aerospace Museum, according to news website Terra.
Ayrton Senna’s experiences with the aircrafts went to Senna’s head – literally. Sid Mosca, in charge of designing the driver’s helmets, created a special model with the drawing of two airplanes on the top of the driver’s iconic helmet.
Take a look at TV Globo’s story (Brazilian TV) about Senna’s unforgettable experience (in portuguese).