For my 21st birthday, understanding my enthusiasm for aviation, my close friends pooled their resources and purchased a gift which, had my mother been informed, most certainly would have caused her to intervene. The gift I am referring to of course is a joy ride in the most aptly named aircraft – the Yak-52 (more on this later).
The Yak 52 – clearly the pilot is an ace with five Japanese Zeros under his belt (never mind the fact that the aircraft wasn’t produced until 1976).
Upon arrival, I absolved the company of any and all liability on the off chance I should die in a horrific accident and before I knew it we were taxiing to the runway. After a relatively uneventful take off and cruise to the free flight zone over Moreton Bay, the pilot queried as to whether I was ready to begin some maneuvers. I responded with an eager “yes” as I was ready to live my dream of being a fighter ace (on the outskirts of Brisbane).
Nothing could have prepared me for what lay ahead, as the plane immediately pitched up to perform an inside loop. The G-forces I experienced were immense and immediately confirmed that I should have taken that bathroom stop before getting onto the tarmac. Following the inside loop, we performed numerous barrel rolls, sharp turns and even some gut wrenching vertical manoeuvres. A highlight included the pilot lining up the Moreton Island passenger barge (carrying innocent civilians preparing to holiday) in his gun sights. As we strafed the unsuspecting vessel, the sound of the pilot’s verbally generated machine gun firing imitation rang out to add to the overall effect (a slightly childish, yet fantastic moment).
Returned safe and sound (if a little green) with only cosmetic bullet damage.
After a brilliant 25 minutes of flight, my allotted time had expired and it was time to head back to the airfield. Only then did it catch up how much the G-forces had affected me (having no previous centrifuge training) – I am unaware of what the cleaning fee would be for a Yak-52 joy flight but thankfully I managed to hold my breakfast in for the entire duration.
I would definitely recommend this experience to anyone who has an interest in flying/manoeuvring. All told the experience cost $499 (thanks fellas) and can be acquired through the Red Balloon website.
This experience served as an excellent introduction to further explore my passion for flight.
Author: David Henderson @davehenderson90