The story of when Ayrton Senna Formula 1 Champion flew aboard FAB Mirage III and RAAF F-111

The story of when Ayrton Senna Formula 1 Champion flew aboard FAB Mirage III and RAAF F-111

By Dario Leone
Jul 19 2021
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The interesting photos in this post feature Ayrton Senna three-time Formula 1 Champion in the cockpit of a FAB Mirage III and in that of a RAAF F-111.

The interesting photos in this post feature Ayrton Senna three-time Formula 1 Champion in the cockpit of a FAB (Brazilian Air Force) Mirage III and in that of a RAAF (Royal Australian Air Force) F-111.

The story behind these photos is quite interesting.

According to an interesting post appeared on Reddit Formula 1 community:

‘Fun fact: His brother, Leonardo Senna, was a pilot in FAB and flew F-5s in 1987 and Mirages in 1989.

‘In 1989, Senna, recently F1 world champion, paid a visit to the city of Anápolis, in the state of Goiás. FAB wanted him to fly in the new Mirage III. Another curious fact: Senna had already flown the family plane in other times.

The story of when Ayrton Senna Formula 1 Champion flew aboard FAB Mirage III and RAAF F-111
Senna in the cockpit of a FAB Mirage III

‘Senna himself asked the pilots to go as quickly as possible, because he wanted to feel the supersonic speed of the Mirage III.

‘But up there, you can’t feel a sense of speed. So the Brazilian pilots decided to fly as low as possible (except his brother lol). Unlike most of those who are not used to G-forces, Senna did not show nausea or dejection – he talked a lot and showed excitement with the experience, even receiving control of the aircraft by a brief period, guided by the squadron commander.

‘Lieutenant-Colonel Cortes, the squadron commander, accelerated until he broke the sound barrier and reached Mach 1.4 (1,728 km/h). In a low-shallow dive, the Mirage reached Mach 0.95 (1,173 km/h). Senna still remained with the squadron after the flight: exchanged souvenirs and received a certificate of supersonic flight.

‘Today, that same Mirage III used in 1989 is exposed for visitation at the Brazilian Aerospace Museum (MUSAL). ‘In 2019, 30th anniversary of this flight, FAB paid a tribute to him, painting a F-5 with the same colors from his helmet.

The story of when Ayrton Senna Formula 1 Champion flew aboard FAB Mirage III and RAAF F-111
Senna in front of a RAAF F-111

‘You can check the whole story about his 1989 flight on the official FAB website here and the tribute here.

‘2 years later, in 1991, FAB escorted him again, and you can check the video and the radio (in Portuguese) here.’

In 1990 Senna instead had the change to fly aboard a RAAF F-111.

Omar Rafei, former RAAF F-111 crew member recalls on Friends of the RAAF General Dynamics F-111C/G (RF-111C) Facebook group:

‘We did a 3 ship flyby before the 1990 Adelaide GP. After landing at Edinburgh we were choppered back to the track and went to the Fosters corporate box to watch the remainder of the race. We were then lucky enough to be invited into the McLaren pits to meet Ayrton. […] He was an aviation nut, so an invitation was offered to give him a ride the next day with our UK exchange pilot, who I think used to race in Europe. Ayrton was kind enough to invite us all to the McLaren party that night at the Hilton (I think). A great night was had by all, gee those F1 types know how to party!! A very eventful joyride was given the next day!!’

The story of when Ayrton Senna Formula 1 Champion flew aboard FAB Mirage III and RAAF F-111
Senna in the cockpit of a RAAF F-111

Photo credit: FAB and RAAF via imgur


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Dario Leone

Dario Leone

Dario Leone is an aviation, defense and military writer. He is the Founder and Editor of “The Aviation Geek Club” one of the world’s most read military aviation blogs. His writing has appeared in The National Interest and other news media. He has reported from Europe and flown Super Puma and Cougar helicopters with the Swiss Air Force.

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