Yakkes Foundation Column and Blog

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Friday, September 12, 2008

blog: Aviator Oil for your aircraft

Since our Yak's and T6 are not the most economical oil users, we made an deal with a huge oil distributor to get a good rate. You as Yakkes web visitor can join us in this deal and share the benefits; see our shop for the latest AVIATOR OIL deals.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

blog: Trie before you die, Ruben Nicolai

Monday, 1-9-2008 I was contacted via Seppe Air Service if I was available for an aerobatics trip on Wednesday 3-9-2008 for a television program. We aimed to start the flight at approximately two o'clock in the afternoon. The complete session would take some two hours. I was quite happy to oblige, as it had been some time since I flew the YAK upside down. I had to reschedule one appointment on Wednesday to another day.

Wednesday morning I collected my flight gear, had a pessimistic look outside, where grey clouds covered the sky. Then I proceeded to my part-time job with a former aircraft builder in the southern part of our country. The weather still was not brilliant, but I noticed some brighter spots between the overcast and showers. It might turn out for the best after all.... I had just installed myself in my office with a nice cup of coffee, when I was contacted on my mobile by the television people. They ran into a problem earlier that morning, as a take that was planned in Zeeland was cancelled due to the weather.. if we could start the flying earlier.. at ten o'clock maybe? And uhm... it was all about filming for the program "Try Before You Die" from BNN (www.bnn.nl). Showmasters from this broadcastig company are submitted to all kind of 'different' things you have to do before you... like aerobatics flying. Still a bit doubtfull on the weather, allbeit improving, we decided to travel to Seppe (EHSE), meet up there and decide what to do. I arrived on EHSE just after nine o'clock, together with the technicians who were going to prepare the YAK with the cameras.

First I inspected the YAK. Of course it was, as always, in a tiptop condition, and we dragged it outside. Strange that one allways tends to forget the weight of this machine, about a tonne of solid Russian aircraft... When it was parked outside, the technicians started to prepare the plane. Two cameras were fitted, one camera in-flight direction, and one camera close-up facing the showmaster.
This turned out to be Ruben Nicolai, a well known comedian and showmaster. The preparation and testing would take about an hour. Everything was improvised, as it is not allowed to connect permanent additions to an aircraft!

In the meantime, while the technicians were having a ball, the victim arrived, together with his director. Ruben did not seem very much at ease. That gave me a problem: how do you appease somebody who does not like to fly, has never flown in a small aircraft and hates rollercoasters? Very simple: show him the plane. Such a big and sturdy Russian aircraft, who does not trust that? The reaction of a slightly upset Ruben: "ahmm.. do I really have to get into thát thing???" Right. So far, not very much luck. So I distracted his attention with a short essay on flying small aircraft, aerobatics flying, how simple and safe it all is. Driving a car is far more dangerous, you know!

The weather improved, much to Ruben's dismay, quickly. The technicians called in with the notification that the aircraft was set up. I performed another inspection of the aircraft (loose articles are real killers!) and we decided to go ahead. Another pilot reported the cloud base at 3500 feet. Right. Action time....!

We strapped a parachute to Ruben's back, and I explained how it was operated. Then we put him in the rear seat, put on the safety harness and explained the exit-procedure (in the unlikely event...), just in case. Exiting a YAK in flight is quite straightforward: open the cockpit - remove headset - open the hooks of the harness - stand in the cockpit (bent over) - knees on the edge - exit - pull the cord.

Simple enough, is it not?

Ruben looked at me with his big blue eyes and said that het would not jump out of an aircraft, ever... even if it was surrounded in blazing flames... The I connected the headset and explained how that worked, started the cameras and closed his cockpit. Time to start the engine. It had been propped during the second inspection, and was ready to go. Prime the motor, give it a few more blades to get the cylinders filled with fuel. Brakes on, prop clear, push the starter button. A few bangs, big clouds of fat smoke and the Venedejev started with a very satisfying growl, and settled with a nice rumble.
A remark from the rear seat: "do these aircraft always make such noise and shake that much?" Explained to him that was only during startup. After 10 minutes the engine was warm enough to taxi to the holdingpoint of the runway. There I performed the engine checks, all fine. P's and T's in the green.

Then we lined up on the 25. I asked Ruben if he was ready to go. In the mirror I saw him nod.. he was not able to speak for the moment... Let's rock 'n roll.. full throttle and accelerate. At 90 km/h lift the nosewheel and 2 seconds later we flew. Gear up. We maintained 20 feet over the runway, and at the end I pitched up some 25º to climb to circuit height. Ruben thought this was very spectacular!

We climbed to 2000 feet. There I prepared Ruben slowly and increasingy by performing a 360 with 10º, 30º and 45º bank. Ruben even began to enjoy himself (a bit). After that we climbed to 3500 feet. We did 2 wing-overs, a left aileron roll and a right aileron roll. Ruben found it "serious". Then we prepared for the looping. Ruben asked to signal him when the looping would start, this would give him the chance to announce it in the camera. We decided that the word "GO" would be the signal.

I lined up the aircraft with the runway on Seppe at 4000 ft by a wingover. Speed increased to 320 km/h. Then I said "GO". In the rear of the aircraft sounded, while I started the looping, the yell: "TRIE BEFORE YOU DIEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEEE".... I swear to you: the last word lasted troughout the complete looping until we were flying level and upright again..

We flew back direction earth in a relatively steep dive until 700 feet.. in the rear I could hear Ruben cursing his director, colleages and employer.. entering the circuit for the 25. Before the full-stop landing we did a go-around -oh no, not allowed over here- let's call it a touch-and-go for the filmcrew. They were filming the flight from ground level. Landed the YAK, and we made a full stop close to the cameras. I got out, and helped Ruben to release his harness and parachute. Then I congratulated him with his first aerobatic flight. He did a good job for a first-timer! He looked very relieved, and a wee bit pale. But hey, he would not be after meeting a Russion beauty in this manner!

He thanked me, for explaining everything the way I did and preparing him for the looping. It was exhilirating to do, he said. Once in a lifetime, that is... The camera shots looked great.

After that we parted, and the whole bunch was very satisified. Ruben was glad to be alive...

This was a very nice demo, another score for the Yakkes Foundation!! Do not forget to watch the "Try Before You Die" series: every Sunday at 21:00, starting on September 7th. Rubens aerobatics trip will probabely be showed on September 28th, or October 5th. Stay tuned!

Willem Braat