11 November 2007

Preparing for the Yak-50

November 2007 Russian prop aircraft like the Yak-52, Yak-50, Su-31 and Su-26, are fitted with the supercharged M-14P radial engine and use a pneumatic system to start the engine and power the landing gear. The Yak-52 pictured here belongs to Mark McNicol. He very kindly allowed me to use his aircraft for conversion training. An equally kind Steve Curtis offered to conduct my conversion training to radial engined and pneumatic system equipped Russian aircraft.

Although equipped with tricycle landing gear and weighing 315 kg more than the 50, the 52 (1305 kg MTOW) is sufficiently similar for conversion training to the single seat 50. Note the tall landing gear used to provide sufficient ground clearance for the big 2.4 m (7.9 ft) diameter propeller.

In terms of seating position relative to the 50, the 52's front cockpit is further forward. But for initial engine and systems conversion training, I started off in the front cockpit. Later on, I will move to the rear cockpit to get used to flying aerobatics from the rear cockpit.

The rear cockpit has a limited instrument panel. Note the Russian style attitude indicator (top centre instrument) in which the light grey "sky" is below the black "ground." In flight, when the aircraft's nose is raised above the real horizon, the artificial horizon (dividing line between the light grey and black sections) moves up above the fixed aircraft symbol (visible along the -20 degree pitch marker).

Compared to the layout of the 50's cockpit, the 52 is similar but different. One major difference is the location of the engine cooling shutters lever and oil cooler flap lever on the right cockpit console (seen on left side of the photo above). The emergency air valve (red knob) is also on the right cockpit console.

The left cockpit console contains the switch bank, flap lever, throttle and pitch levers. Another key difference between the 50 and 52 are the flaps - the former has none. Consequently, my flying in the 52 is conducted without flaps. I did make one landing with flaps and found they made very smooth landings easy.

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