OK so here's the story. The airplane has about 380 hours on the airframe. That's almost nothing as far as these things go. The design dates back to the mid 1980s. Cold war days. The Russians wanted a airplane that would overwhelm the airplanes used by the Europeans and Americans. Yakolev designed the YAK-55 , and that's what it did. The Europeans escalated with designs like the Mudry CAP series and the Walter Extra series. A few years later the Russians escalated with the Suhkoi 26/29 series. So right now, when you look at the best scoring hot shot acrobatic pilots in the world, most of them use one of those more recent Russian/French/German series of machines. American contestants at the World level use a mixture of machines, including the American Pitts Special series. I thought long and hard about a Pitts. Real hard. I've got enough hours in Pitts S-2Bs to love them. Snarling Bumble-Bee shaped things. Take power off and they fly like the Space Shuttle. Beautiful machines that you wear. But in the end I decided I wanted a mono-winged airplane, and about the same time I made that decision, I found this machine advertised on the Internet.

Yes, you heard right! I have so much faith in the British gentleman who represents the Lithuanian factory that does the refurbishing that I bought this airplane on the Internet.

No, I'm not interested in bridges!

Well and there's another thing about LY-AOU ('LY' is the International Civilian Aviation Organization's designator for the country of Lithuania). You can tell we got the drop on designators: the 'N' in front of all American airplanes stands for 'Number'. The Germans got 'G' ... can't remember the others, but some of them are rather odd.

My mother's family is/was Lithuanian. I'm half Lithuanian. So in a odd fashion, even though Nancy died about a year ago, my new machine will remind me of her as long as I live.

Ain't she a beaut!

William J. Halverson<william@netpros.net>
©2002 Netpros.net LLC