Berkut - Experimental Aircraft

One of the hangers at the Santa Monica Municipal Airport is owned by Dave Ronneberg, long-time designer and builder of the Berkut. The Berkut is a tandem-seating homebuilt/experimental aircraft - meaning that people can essentially buy kits to carefully assemble the aircraft and eventually fly it themselves (wow). It’s fast and nimble performance in the sky shines during aerobatic maneuvers.

I’ve had the opportunity to visit Dave’s hanger to photograph him and his small team build the Berkut. I could tell Dave’s a master of his craft by watching him work and listening to him explain things to me. The design of the aircraft is complex, and building it involves a tremendous amount of precise, detailed work, though Dave somehow seemed to know exactly what to do at each step in the process. Some of it is almost like an art - like sculpting the surface of the wing by touch to maintain smooth airflow over it. His wealth of knowledge coupled with his scrappy improvosational skills were truly impressive.