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British pilots in Russian Yaks tumble and toss in air at Aero India show

By Group Capt T K Singha

Bengaluru, Feb 19: Yakovlevs - a four aircraft display team from UK, flying Russian origin Yak aircraft, made their debut in India at Aero India air show in Bengaluru.

They are among the five display teams enthralling audiences and winning hearts.

Aero India:Britishpilots in Russian Yaks

The team usually flies six Russian designed Yak aircraft that combine the performance of a Spitfire with proven world class aerobatic manoeuvrability. At Aero India, however, the team is operating only four Yaks.

The lead aircraft is a modified Yak 52, once the primary training aircraft for sport pilots of the former Soviet Bloc.

Derived from the Yak 18 and the Yak 50 and first flown 24 years ago, nearly 1,800 have been built and is still in production today.

Aero India:Britishpilots in Russian Yaks

The Yakovlevs ‘Super' 52 is a unique example, modified for display flying is flown by team leader and owner Jez Hopkinson, who is a flight Examiner and a Display Pilot Evaluator.

Surrounding the Yak 52 are three single seat Yak 50's. The team flies the ‘box' formation when they are displaying.

The Yak 50 designed by Sergei Yakovlev is one of the world's greatest aerobatic aircraft.

First flown in 1975 the Yak-50 was an outstanding success from the start.

Aero India:Britishpilots in Russian Yaks

At the 1976 World Aerobatic Championships, it bagged 10 prizes in various categories including overall men's and women's team prizes.

Similar success was enjoyed at the 1980 World Championships as well. Unlike the Yak 52, the 50 was made in relatively small numbers and we now estimate that there are less than 30 Yak 50s left in the world that still fly, with the team having three.

The Yakovlevs were first formed 12 years ago, and have flown over 1200 displays in 11 countries.

Aero India:Britishpilots in Russian Yaks

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