MOL

London

It’s a manoeuvre that’ll wedge your heart in your mouth, tie your stomach in knots and wrench at the gut.

But it’s all in a day’s work for daredevil Rob Holland who has perfected a signature trick which sees him fly upside down directly above other planes while travelling at more than 150mph.

Once in that position he can flies with barely inches between the two planes’ cockpits as he barrels over the pilot below, zooming into dramatic aerial photographs.

The split second roll over is reminiscent of Eighties film Top Gun and Rob has managed the stunt in jets and other nimble aircraft such as his custom, all-carbon fibre competition aerobatic plane, known as an MXS-RH.

Rob, from Nashua, in New Hampshire, US, flew in his first air show in 2002 and has notched up more than 10,000 hours of flight experience.

In an already illustrious, Tom Cruise-worthy career trajectory, the 40-year-old pilot has been crowned US National Aerobatic Champion four times and World Freestyle Champion twice.

He said: ‘The whole manoeuvre is all about trust and experience. I pick only experienced pilots I trust to fly with and then we all fly exactly as we plan.

‘We brief what we fly and fly what we brief. I fly off the photo plane the whole time. Once I roll upside down, I try to stay as level and smooth as I can. It takes years of experience flying in formation to perform manoeuvres like this safely.

‘But it’s a lot of fun and also an honour to share the sky with so many incredible planes and pilots. In the end, I hope the images serve to inspire other people to pursue their dreams.

‘I never fear - if I was afraid, I wouldn’t do it. I don’t fear this kind of flying, but I respect it. ‘By having respect for the dangers inherent in flying, you can manage and minimise the risk. You want these manoeuvres to look dangerous, but actually be safe.’

It takes a similarly high level of skill for photographer Steven Serdikoff, 44, who has been photographing the pilot for two years, to capture the vital moment.

Steve, from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, said: ‘The most difficult aspect of capturing these shots is working to get sharp images from a platform - an aeroplane - constantly in motion.

‘You want to use slow shutter speeds so the aircraft propellers are blurred, but that makes it harder to get the planes themselves sharp, especially when the air is rough.

‘While these may appear to be stunts they really are carefully coordinated manoeuvres executed by highly trained aviators with years of experience.

‘And, of course, sharing the sky with my heroes never gets old. ‘I’m glad to be able to share the experiences with everyone through these photos.’