The Back of the Yak

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It’s another great day here at the Battle Creek Field of Flight Airshow and Balloon Festival!  This is my eighth year covering Battle Creek and it’s my favorite airshow.

It’s different this year, as it is with many shows.  Where, in light of sequestration, the shows are even still on this year!  Battle Creek usually has a jet team.  Not so this year.  Thus it’s an interesting year and the civilians are working hard to make the show happen and keep it viable.  Dave Dacy, Dan Buchanan, Firebirds XTreme, Rob Holland, Iron Eagle, Dusty from Planes, and the Shockwave Jet Truck are all here.

The Aerostars are here, too, with their three-ship of Yak 52 TWs.  I connected with them last week and was delighted to learn that they might have an opportunity to let me launch in the back seat of the left wing aircraft.

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I strapped in behind Paul “Rocket” Hornick, the team’s left wing pilot, for a brief flight out east of the Battle Creek airspace.  The sticker in the back is pretty cool.  And it’s on point.  And, judging from the number of Facebook Likes that it received within a few minutes of my posting the picture above, that approach has a lot of traction.

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Paul demonstrated a few light aerobatic maneuvers.  A loop, a half-Cuban, a barrel roll, and some other yanking and banking.  Very smooth demonstrations of coordination.

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Paul was even kind enough to give me the stick for a couple of maneuvers, to-wit barrel rolls.  Nose down for energy to about 190 IAS, pull up to put your feet on the horizon, then take it around.  I even remembered to go to the right (opposite the rotation of the Yak’s propeller).

This was my first time getting inverted this season and my vestibular system objected as it usually does at this time in the season.  That was about it for the ride.  Paul was extremely understanding about it and we headed back in.  After all, the aircraft is going to sit out in the sun all afternoon and then Paul has to fly it this evening and the rest of the weekend.  Not a place in which you want your back seater to hurl.

I have to dash out and gather a couple more interviews, but I had to get this post up.  I’m grateful to the Aerostars for the ride and I can’t wait to edit this down and get it up in the form of an episode.

There’s more information about the Aerostars at