Thursday, July 31, 2008

More Classics in Bad Dürkheim

The airshow I went to in Bad Dürkheim about a month ago had other classic airplanes on display besides the two beautiful Cessna 195 I mentioned in a previous post. In order of photographic appearance below, we have an Antonov An-2, three Yak-52, a Bücker Bü 181 and a Piper Cub.

The Antonov An-2, registered as D-FAIR, is one of the four An-2 operated by Classic Wings. The An-2 is still to this day (and probably for the foreseeable future) the largest biplane in the world. You will notice it only has one (radial) engine. Initially developed as an agricultural airplane, it later found a lot of other applications, such as parachute drop, water bomber or air ambulance. There's a video of the engine start-up checks on YouTube for those interested.

According to this very detailed history of the An-2, even though the An-2 was entirely designed in the USSR, most of them were built in Poland and China, where production still continues to this day. Interestingly, while planes used for spraying crops are known as "crop dusters" in the English-speaking world, they are called Кукурузник (Kukhuruznik) in Russian, meaning corn eater.

Continuing with another iconic Russian airplane, there were three Yak-52. The Yak is often found at airshows and has now become a popular aerobatics airplane, after having served as a basic trainer for many countries of the former Eastern Block. Despite its classic look, production actually only started in 1974. Today, it is AeroStar in Romania who keep on producing small batches of Yak-52. It is powered by a 9-cylinder radial engine, and one peculiarity of the type is that pneumatics are used for engine start, flaps, landing gear, and also braking and steering.

I learnt recently that one of the most renowned specialists on the topic of Russian military aircrafts is Herbert Leonard, who is is better known in France for being a romantic crooner that many people, including myself, would not hesitate to call cheesy.

Sherry Ditmer wrote a very nice story for AvWeb about her first flight in a Yak. And if you think (or dream) about buying one, RussianAeros in the UK have the lowdown on why the Yak-52 is a better value aerobatics aircraft than most of its Western competitors. There's even a tailwheel version of the aircraft.

Another military trainer, this time from WWII Germany, was the Bücker Bü 181 D-ENKM. Designed in Germany in the first few years of the war, it was produced in Germany but also in a number of countries that were either neutral, such as Sweden, or under German occupation at the time such as the Netherlands and Czechoslovakia. The German-language Wikipedia page reminds us that the Bü 181 was a departure from previous training aircrafts, such as the Bücker Bü 131, being a monoplane and, more importantly, allowing student pilot and instructor to sit side-by-side rather than one behind the other.

On the other side of the fence that prevented spectators from getting any closer to the airplanes, the local aero club had emptied one of their hangars and lined up tables for everyone to taste the local food and drinks...

...while the young ones could enjoy a ride in a non-FAA certified full-motion flight simulator for only a few euros:

Another WWII trainer, this time from the American side, was also there: a Piper Cub D-EKBO, in its original characteristic yellow livery:

Notice the tandem seating, with typically the instructor at the back and the student pilot in the front seat.

So that was all for Bad Dürkheim. The nice thing about Europe is that there are more airshows during the summer months than there are week-ends, and that most of them are within a few hours flying time from a place such as Bad Dürkheim in Germany. Which cannot exactly be said about Australia. But then again, there's many things that make flying in Australia a unique experience, including the remoteness of the place, so I guess one cannot have it both ways.

No comments: