Either the baddest bird in the world or a kick-ass homebuilt aircraft from Rennaissance Composites.

The Bird

The Berkut is a subspecies of golden eagle native to Central Asia. Adults weigh in at 10-12 pounds and up, making the berkut one of the largest raptors. In Kirghizistan, the native tribesmen use them to hunt wolves and large game from horseback, often with the aid of dogs.

The berkut is powerful enough to stun and pin, or even kill, wolves by diving on them and striking them with its claws. It can knock down a wolf by hitting it from the air and pin its spine with one claw and pin its jaws shut with the other when the wolf turns to bite the eagle. The berkut can then freely attack the wolf's neck with its beak, or allow the hunter to kill the wolf himself.

They hunt larger game, such as wild rams and mountain goats, in a similar fashion, and by forcing them off cliffs. More information and pictures of this magnificent raptor can be found at Tileukabyl Esembakuly's website dedicated to hunting with Berkuts at:


The Plane

The Berkut is a powerful canard, pusher homebuilt aircraft. A kit is available from Rennaisance Composites. The aircraft is a close descendent of Burt Rutan's superb Long-EZ, designed by Dave Ronneberg, a protege of Rutan. The flight surfaces are almost identical to those of the Long-EZ, but the Berkut is larger and more powerful, and features a retractable main landing gear.

The kit is built with carbon fiber and kevlar as well as the fiberglass and foam typical of the Long-EZ, to increase strength and stiffness.

A Berkut flown by Dave Ronnenberg placed second in the final Silver Heat of the Sport Racing Class at the Reno Air Races in 1999.

More information available from Rennaisance Composite's homepage, www.berkut.com

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