Yakkes Foundation Column and Blog

Welcome to the Yakkes Foundation Columns and Blogs!

Sunday, August 24, 2008

blog: Yak-18 added to the Foundation

With a lot of patience, blood, sweat and tears, Jean Micheal Le Grand finished his Yak-18 project with OO-IAK “MAX “ and we are proud to welcome him within the Yakkes Foundation.

June 12 was D-Day, the Yak-18 was airborne for the first time since a long time. Jean Micheal is a proud man, and he should be, what a beauty!

The Yak-18 prototype was nicknamed “MAX” by the NATO and has flown for the first time back in 1945. It was the concept for several military trainers. The Yak-18, which became the standard trainer for Air Force flying schools and DOSAAF, is in wide use in China, Poland, Russia, and in many other countries.

Revisions of the Soviet Union's basic Yakovlev UT-2M trainer in 1943 included the enclosing of the tandem cockpits and the replacement of a tailskid with a tailwheel. The new variant, designated the UT-2MV, provided the basis for the Yak-18 prototype, first flown in 1945, when the dust of the last WWII battle had hardly settled. With an all-metal structure and mixed fabric/metal covering, the aircraft went into production in 1947, with a comparatively small engine. Built in large numbers as a "tail dragger," the plane was redesigned as the Yak-18U in 1955, with increased wing dihedral, longer fuselage and partially-retractable tricycle landing gear, for use as a jet pilot primary trainer. Despite significantly increased weight, the plane used the same old Shvetsov M-11FR radial engine as the prototype, with predictably disappointing performance. But after it was given a new engine, the 260hp Ivchenko AI-14R radial, in a revised cowling, it served for many years as the primary trainer in the Soviet Union and many client nations, under the designation Yak-18A. There were other variants, sometimes in quantity, such as the Yak-18P, a single-seat aerobatic aircraft that first flew in 1961.

General characteristics

  • Crew: two, student and instructor
  • Length: 8.35 m (27 ft 5 in)
  • Wingspan: 10.60 m (34 ft 9 in)
  • Height: 3.35 m (11 ft 0 in)
  • Wing area: 17.8 m² (191 ft²)
  • Empty weight: 1,025 kg (2,255 lb)
  • Loaded weight: kg (lb)
  • Max takeoff weight: 1,320 kg (2,904 lb)
  • Powerplant: 1× Ivchenko AI-14RF radial, 224 kW (300 hp)


  • Maximum speed: 300 km/h (187 mph)
  • Range: 700 km (436 miles)
  • Service ceiling 5,060 m (16596 ft)
  • Rate of climb: ........m/s (......ft/min)
  • Wing loading: .....kg/m² (......lb/ft²)
  • Power/mass: ......kW/kg (......hp/lb)

Manufacture of the Yak-18 trainer was suspended in 1967 with 6,670 of all versions built, many for export. However, in that same year, production was begun on a significant redesign, the Yak-18T, which was virtually a new machine, a four-place sport/touring aircraft, with side-by-side seating for the pilot(s) and passengers. Production of the Yak-18T continued into the 1980's, with more than 1,000 built. Like many popular aircraft, the Yak-18T has a certain Phoenix-like quality. Thus, the independently operated Smolensk aircraft factory resumed roduction of the plane in 1993.

Back in 1998 Jean Michel Legrand, Airbus captain at Sabena Airline, became interested with vintage aircraft. A friend of Jean Michel told him that he knew of a wreckage of a Yak-18 at a former airspace base in Baikonour Russia. After getting the parts of what once used to be a Yak-18 into Poland, they started to work on the project. Finding the missing parts was the most difficult part of the project. Fortunately, many CJ5 parts actually fit quite nice. In Poland, Woicheck Gorzyck of DuskaAir in Wroclaw masterminded the restoration. Most of the work was actually done in it’s own home, housing the fuselage in the hallway, wings in the basement and engine parts in the living. it was always very special to visit the project, says Jean Michel.

Gorzyck’s dad, who used to be a mechanic at Yak-18’s during the cold war in the Polish air force, loved the project and volunteered his assistance. His experience was worth gold.

Early 2008, the project was about to be finished and the aircraft was transported to Belgium where it has been assembled. June 7, al paperwork was finished, June 12, the aircraft went airborne again after having been earth-bound for a long long time. Great job Jean Michel!

In the future this Yak-18 will be presented at many events, flown by Jean Michel. Keep visiting our website for the schedule.

Friday, August 22, 2008

column: Dealing in Russian aircraft by Richard Goode

Over the years many people have asked me how and why I got into this curious business which is, I suppose, totally fascinating and absorbing, but also utterly frustrating in probably equal amounts!

It all went back to the 1978 World Aerobatic Championships - the first in which I had competed; I was then flying a Pitts Special. I was totally in awe of the Yak-50s, which had of course, dominated the 1976 World Championships but were facing tougher competition from the Czechs, with the new Zlin 50, as well as rather better Americans. Also the Russians were affected by the recent death of Letsko, the 76 Champion, who had been killed following airframe failure in his Yak-50 (itself caused by over enthusiastic flying), which had happened a couple of weeks before the Championship.

I then made every effort that I could to purchase a Yak-50 – contacting Yakovlev themselves; the Russian Embassy and Trade Delegation in London etc. This led me into a variety of interesting encounters with Russian spies and British Counter-Intelligence. However after a year or so it became clear that the Russians really were simply not geared to selling a light aircraft of this sort to the West.

The breakthrough came in 1986, when a friend of mine, Wolfgang Jaegle, who was in the German Team, and shared my enthusiasm for Yaks, put together a deal with the East German (then DDR) flying authorities who had had 50s for some eight years, but flew them very little, and were interested in buying Zlin 50s. The deal was essentially one to provide the engines; props; oil coolers, and a few other Western-sourced components to Zlin to make the new aircraft, in exchange for six Yak-50s. Wolfgang invited me to join the deal, and after a long and interesting story and formation ferry-flight from East Germany, I ended up with two; Wolfgang kept two and we sold two to the States.

I was then lucky enough to obtain very good sponsorship for the 50s from Vladivar Vodka, an English Vodka company, which tries very hard to be Russian, so the idea of promoting through Russian aircraft was a good one. This relationship worked well for some three years, until Vladivar themselves were taken over. However it brought me to the attention of the Russians as being the one person in the West who seemed to be successfully operating Yaks without any formal support (indeed the Russians continued to deny that these 50s were even in the West).

Sukhoi then brought out the Su-26 in the middle eighties, and by 1989 were keen to sell them to the West. Sukhoi contacted me to see if I was interested in flying the 26 when it came to Farnborough – I am sure you can imagine my reply! In the event it had an unusual engine problem, so, although I sat in it, I was unable to fly, which was somewhat frustrating. However the Russians then invited me to Moscow with a view to fly the plane and (they hoped) buy one. I suppose, somewhat inevitably, this is what happened. Those were heady days; the Russians had lots of money – when I went to Moscow I had a huge “Chaika” limousine at my disposal, and it was clear that Sukhoi really were going places. In order to maximise the publicity, I persuaded Sukhoi to deliver my first 26 in a big Iluyshin-76 transporter, and indeed was able to persuade our Ministry of Defence that it could be allowed to fly into Royal Air Force Abingdon, the first time that a Russian Military aircraft had flown into a RAF base.

I was developing a good relationship with the commercial guys at Sukhois, and it was not long before they asked me if I would help them sell Sukhois in the West. They were in the process of recruiting a US Agent called Brian Becker, so he and I divided the world between us with him having the US – obviously the biggest single market, and me having the rest of the world. In those days Russian production worked well; there was no problem with parts; and, although there was the odd delay, aircraft came out on time and to specification. However it was not without its dramas – on one occasion I went to Moscow, with the particular aim of inspecting a new Sukhoi destined for an Australian customer, only to be told that the entire factory (clearly a top secret establishment) was closed to all foreigners and that I was not going to be allowed in. I created quite a fuss, pointing out I had come to Moscow to see this one plane, and after a lot of high level discussions, I was allowed to the rear of the Sukhoi factory in the middle of the night, which then opened up onto the historic Moscow Central Airfield (which was still being used by Sukhoi for initial light aircraft test flying); the backdoor of the factory was opened; the Sukhoi was pushed out; I inspected it under powerful light they provided; it was then pushed back inside and I was allowed to go back to my hotel.

Before I go further, you should understand that at that stage there was no private aviation at all in Russia. Effectively everything was military; Aeroflot, i.e. everything that was remotely General Aviation, and finally DOSAAF, which was the sport flying side of the military, but controlling parachuting/gliding and of course fixed-wing flying.

So DOSAAF controlled almost all flying as far as 52s were concerned. This meant that all over the Soviet Union there were individual flying clubs to which any citizen could go, and if they had the ability; fly; do aerobatics etc. However it was a very military environment, and very far from a social club!

What had happened was that DOSAAF placed a huge order (about 150 aircraft) in early 1990 for 52s to be delivered that year and in 1991. Of course the Soviet Union then collapsed, and so a lot of these aircraft were delivered – this was always done in hermetically sealed wooden containers with the aircraft disassembled – to airfields all over what was now Russia, but with no money to assemble them, let alone fly them. My friends at Sukhoi got to hear about a number of these aeroplanes, and having the right high-level contacts with DOSAAF arranged to do a deal, whereby DOSAAF would sell; I would buy; they would handle all intermediary transactions. This was quite a successful line of business for us, I think that, overall, we sold over thirty of these “never used” 52s, with the last one being in, I think, 2000. In the beginning all had a huge amount of equipment, including ladders; covers; jacks; tools; spares etc, but by the time that we got to the later aircraft most of this had been stolen!

Our relationship with individual DOSAAF Regional Managers, led us to realise that there was an awful lot of older 52s lying about, and, by and large, not being used. We began to buy these aeroplanes and, after overhaul, sometimes in Russia, sometimes in Lithuania and of course sometimes in the UK, then sold them.

At this stage various other people were coming into the market, and although we tried, insofar as was possible, to ensure that everything that we bought was legal; had been officially cleared for sale, without any doubt a lot of aircraft and associated equipment was quietly removed from airfields at a stage that the local manager had been paid to take a day off work or whatever!!

Engines were another area where we quickly became involved. Each DOSAAF airfield tends to have a number of spare engines – a lot new (unused but old-stock), but mainly overhauled. Again, with no flying occurring in Russia, DOSAAF was keen to keep income going, and so we began to buy, and of course sell, these engines, as we did with other parts.

About this time the entire banking system in Russia collapsed, and this was at a stage that we had a lot of business going, so I was forced to make regular visits to Russia with a briefcase packed with US $ in cash, simply to pay for the aircraft that we had bought.

Inevitably this led into all other areas of activity. I was then introduced to Slava Kondratiev – the Designer of the Yak-55, and subsequently the Sukhoi 26, who was not only a brilliant designer, but also, by Russian standards, a good businessman. He was fed up with working for large organisations like Yakovlev and Sukhoi, so set up his own Design Bureau, and initially designed the SP-91 (the rather ugly metal Sukhoi Su-29 equivalent), but with the advantage of being either single or double cockpit. He then put the Yak-18T back into production – that had stopped in 1984. So we began selling them directly from the Smolensk factory. They were incredibly cheap – I recollect us selling new aircraft for (then) US $60,000! After a while we then asked the Russians to help us make higher performance 18Ts, with lighter weight; PF, 400hp engines; two piece windscreens; far lighter weight etc. I only wish that we could still buy them at those sorts of prices – current batch of new 18Ts for Russian Ministry of Transport are US$640,000 each!

The next area of activity was new production Yak-3 and Yak-9 aircraft. The distinction was a marketing one, with the 3 being single-seater and the 9 a 2-seater. This programme had began with an order for ten aircraft from the US “Planes of Fame” museum, but I could see that there was considerable potential beyond that so we started placing orders for these brand new Second World War Fighters to sell to customers. Again quite a success story, until the Orenburg factory, where they were made, fell out with the local Mafia; guys came in with machine guns one night and literally took everything, from the Yak-3/9 business, including all jigs, fittings and drawings, in eight articulated trucks and drove off!!

Then, of course, came engines. As we were selling aircraft, inevitably we needed more engines, whether to replace time-expired ones; for unfortunate customers who had done wheels-up landings; or for upgrades to 400hp for Sukhoi owners. At that stage Vedeneyev was on its knees – all its government funding having stopped, so they were desperate to have new business. We began giving them all our engine overhaul business, as well as finding unused but old stock engines in Russia; sending them back to Vedeneyev, where they were stripped down; checked; converted to PF specification; dynamometer-tested and then we would sell them.

To fast-forward to today, things are much more difficult! Sukhoi has stopped making new aircraft; new 18Ts are out of anyone’s price range; the Yak-54 production has started and then stopped, and now is about to restart in the Russian Far East; no new engines have been built since 1994, but fortunately engine overhaul is continuing; most of the decent aircraft have already come out of Russia, and one legacy of President Putin is extreme export controls, which means that anything that is aviation related has to be referred to the FSB (the new KGB) for approval, and this can take months, simply to export, for example, a tyre.

So where will it go? I honestly do not know. I can say that business is a lot more difficult – of course we are in more difficult economic times – but many of our traditional areas of business have, for totally different reasons (as above) simply disappeared. However we have sold approaching three hundred aircraft and almost two hundred engines over the years, so we have quite a customer base to continue to service, and, indeed, we are still getting some good aircraft!

Richard Goode Aerobatics

Rhodds Farm Lyonshall
3LW United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1544 340 120
Fax: +44 (0) 1544 340 129

Monday, August 18, 2008

blog: Schaffen-Diest & end of season party 2008

Schaffen-Diest was pretty much end-off-airshow season for 2008. We will have some more photo and training flights in the next months, but its end for public events.

There will be an end of year party somewhere in November, keep visiting us for the details.

The 25th Schaffen-Diest Fly-Inn was a good one, over 300 aircraft have visited the small airfield. Eric Coeckelberghs did do some excellent aerial work together with our Yak-52, Yak-52, Texan T6 and Yak-18.
As usual there was super party at Schaffen-Diest, as always one of the best. We would like to thank Guy Valkekens and the rest of the organisation of the Schaffen Diest Fly-Inn for its hospitality. http://flyin.dac.be/

See the images below.

Hanno Wesdorp close-up with the T-6
Jean-Michel Legrand with his Yak-18 in formation with the T-6 Peter Kuypers in the Yak-50 together with Hanno and Karen
Overhead Schaffen-Diest Fly-Inn
Keep on shooting Joining up with the T6, N13-FY
It's nice to have a convertible with this weather
Smoking break Hans Nordsiek whas at Schaffen with his overhauled Stearman
The Old Crow, storyteller, what a beauty ! Our Promoteam does know what to do with the Yakkes tatoos !
Looks great, Goof ! Should put it there permanentlyDON'T YOU TOUCH ME BEER !
Tattoo here, tattoo there, tattoo everywhere !
O darn, that Aviator Wodka again ! NOW STOP TAKING THOSE IMAGES !

See you all at the end of year party.
Team Yakkes Foundation

Wednesday, August 06, 2008

column: Undercarriage slam, by Dennis Savarese

Preventing the undercarriage from slamming down into position with the aircraft on jacks while doing the annual undercarriage extension test (it WILL get your attention), can be eliminated. First let me explain why the undercarriage slams into position when using the normal emergency undercarriage extension procedure. This procedure instructs us to move the undercarriage handle to the NEUTRAL position before opening the emergency air valve. As a refresher, the only reason we use the emergency undercarriage extension procedure is because the main air system is empty (for whatever reason). Under normal operating conditions, with the undercarriage handle in the UP position, the main air tank supplies air pressure to the UP side of the undercarriage actuators while the compressor refills the main air tank. This air pressure acts as a "cushion" when the undercarriage handle is moved to the DOWN position. ie: air pressure on the UP side of the actuator is exhausting out through the undercarriage handle ( the "woosh" you hear when you move the handle or with the handle in the NEUTRAL position). The NEUTRAL position empties the air pressure from actuators. With no air pressure in the main air system, there is no "cushion". In the normal emergency extension procedure, with the undercarriage in NEUTRAL, when the emergency knob is opened, air pressure from the emergency air bottle rushes into the DOWN side of the actuators through a simple shuttle valve on each actuator (which isolates the emergency from the main system on the down side of the actuators) forcing the undercarriage to slam into the DOWN position.

Use the following procedure to eliminate the slamming of the undercarriage during emergency extension tests:

- using appropriate aircraft jacks, raise the airplane off the ground

- assure the rear undercarriage handle is in the NEUTRAL position with the slide lock in place and the front undercarriage handle is in the DOWN position

- in the front cockpit, turn the main air valve on and turn on the BATTERY/MAIN switch and the appropriate toggle switch/breaker for the undercarriage lights

- confirm the DOWN undercarriage lights are on

- next, move the undercarriage handle slide lock to the left

- raise the undercarriage by moving the undercarriage handle to the UP position

- confirm the UP undercarriage lights are on

- turn off the main air valve

- with the undercarriage handle still in the UP position, proceed to the EMERGENCY UNDERCARRIAGE EXTENSION TEST


- DO NOT MOVE THE UNDERCARRIAGE HANDLE TO THE NEUTRAL POSITION at this time as this will exhaust the remaining air pressure on the up side of the actuators

- slowly open the emergency air valve; you should see the undercarriage UP lights go out and the DOWN lights may also remain off

- with the emergency air valve still open, move the undercarriage handle from the UP to the NEUTRAL position; air pressure will begin to exhaust through the handle

- the undercarriage will now move gently into the DOWN position and the DOWN lamps will light. Explanation: the air pressure that remained on the UP side of the actuators by leaving the undercarriage handle in the UP position now acts as the "cushion" or "shock absorber" when the emergency valve is opened

- close the emergency air valve

- move the undercarriage handle from the NEUTRAL position to the DOWN position

- now you must release the pressure on the actuator shuttle valves.


- On standard Yak 52's with pneumatic brakes, using the brake handle on the stick, squeeze and release the brake handle until there is no longer any air pressure exhausting when you release the brake handle. This is accomplished when the relief valve just below the front seat on the right side offers a sound much like a human passing gas. Once the relief valve has sounded off, you may then open the main air valve. The actuators will now pressurize on the DOWN side.

- On Yak 52TW's and W's since neither has pneumatic brakes, the factory installed a pressure relief valve for the emergency system on the rear corner of the console on the right side. Open this valve and let the air exhaust. Once you no longer hear air leaking out, close the valve.

- Next, OPEN THE MAIN AIR VALVE and perform a NORMAL undercarriage retraction/extension from either the front or rear cockpit. Be sure the undercarriage handle is in NEUTRAL in the cockpit you are NOT operating the undercarriage from.

- It is recommended to cycle the undercarriage from the rear cockpit as well during the annual testing of the undercarriage.

Good luck,

A. Dennis Savarese
Yak World of Alabama


blog: Schaffen-Diest Old Timer Fly-inn

From 15 till 17 August 2008, Diest Aero Club will organise the 25th edition of the international oldtimer fly in at the airfield of Schaffen-Diest in Belgium. They will expect again hundreds of oldtimer airplanes from all over Europe. Of course the Yakkes Foundation will be there. A nice weekend out for you and your family http://flyin.dac.be/. See you all there.

For affiche, click here: http://flyin.dac.be/images/affiche_2008.pdf