Gord took a 24 year sabbatical from airshow aerobatic flying and returned in 2012. He is flying the prototype YAK 50 with a newly installed 435 hp engine. This is the only YAK 50 registered in Canada.. CFYGP
The YAK 50 is the largest aircraft to fly in the World Aerobatic Championships and was designed as a graceful aerobat with plenty of power. Gord displays the best qualities of the YAK-50 from the flat spin to the long straight lines and spectacular outside snap rolls in a fast moving graceful display of the capabilities of a Clark YH airfoil flown to it’s maximum.
In 1982, after WAC 82 ended, the Russians asked Gord to be the first Western pilot to fly their YAK 50. He never forgot that flight. Victor Smolin flew his Pitts with the Ultimate wing and he too probably never forgot that flight.
And now we move forward to today.
Gord bought the prototype YAK 50 which was built in Moscow at the Yakovlev Design Bureau in 1972. It was developed from the YAK 18PS. It originally had fixed gear and a bubble canopy. The aircraft was subsequently fitted with a Yak-18 greenhouse and retractable gear. After type testing was completed the aircraft was mothballed and shoved in a corner at the factory. In 2003 the aircraft was rebuilt bringing modifications up to date and it was refitted with a YAK 52 spar. Barry Hancock from Salt Lake city decide to sell the aircraft in 2011 and Gord jumped at the opportunity to purchase this famous aircraft and maybe ..just maybe fly aerobatics again. That was in 2011. In 2017 Gord installed a new 435 HP Vendenyev M-14PF engine giving the aircraft incredible vertical performance.
Gord’s life in the air is as good as it gets. His flying started in an Aeronca Champ in the summer of 1958 in Oshawa Ontario after receiving an Air Cadet Scholarship. The RCAF became his home from 1960-66, training on the Chipmunk, Harvard and T-33. Operational training began on the F-86 and he ended up flying the CF-104 Starfighter. Gord served 2 years as a nuclear strike pilot on 422 Sqn. in Baden Baden Germany. After being told he would have to fly a desk in the RCAF and probably big airplanes he joined Air Canada flying the Viscount, Vanguard, DC-9, L-1011, DC-8 A-320-330-340,retiring from the Boeing 744 after 36 years flying with Air Canada.
Flying big airplanes was wonderful (especially the Boeing 744) but his passion was really light aircraft…so he found out. In 1975 he built a 200 hp Steen Skybolt upgrading to 260 hp in 1977. In 1978 he built a Pitts S-1 which he flew at WAC 80. He also built a 100 hp Clipped Wing Cub with an excello fuel injector / inverted oil system for his wife Sandy which he loved to fly when Sandy allowed it.
After WAC 80 and having the experience of putting a bigger engine in the Skybolt he felt the best way to improve aircraft performance was to increase the roll rate and keep the weight down. So with the help of his friends in the Aeronautical Establishment at the National Research Council in Ottawa Ontario, he designed tested and got approval for the Ultimate Wing for the Pitts S-1. This was one of the highlights of his life … to see such a remarkable improvement in an aircraft’s performance. Gord’s modified Pitts S-1 was the FIRST of the fast rolling airplanes. He officially unveiled it at WAC 82 in Spitzerberg Austria. The comments were predictable. “ It rolls too fast” said many European judges. Right……….and that was the start of today’s super fast rolling airplanes.
From there, as he says “Life is a bit of a blur”. Many hot summers flying the air show at OSHKOSH and lots of competitions and cross country nightmares. He founded Ultimate Aircraft Corp where he and his team designed and built the Ultimate 10-100, 10-200 and 10-300 series of aircraft featuring a swept lower wing and an integrated control system and some other aerodynamic improvements over the Pitts. At Sun and Fun, Gord opened one air show with 3 vertical rolls …on 100 hp. Ultimates were and still are great airplanes however they just never caught on. Gord flew his 10-300S to 15th place in WAC 88, the CNE air show in Sept 88 and that was pretty well the end…… as the realties of trying to run a business while juggling everything else finally caught up to him and his family.
Gord, in his quest to design a great aerobatic airplane flew the Zlln 50, Weeks Special, Weeks Solution, Cap 20, Laser, Extra 300, along with the Pitts S2B and Sukoi 26M.
He considers his best contest result to be The Hilton Masters of Aerobatics when he took 2nd place. All pilots flew the same Pitts S2B’s. The judges were unaware of who was flying and the pilots were not allowed to watch other flights before they flew.
In 1990 he sold his 10-300S to Joanne Osterud in California who flew air shows through the U.S. for a while ………….then she missed the inverted ribbon cut, flew under it and hit the ground, writing the airplane off. It was a strong airplane and Joanne survived to apologize to the crowd for missing the ribbon. A real trooper.
MORE ON THE YAK – 50 COURTESY RICHARD GOODE
Yakovlev is probably the world’s most illustrious designer of aerobatic training and aerobatic competition aircraft with a history going back to fantastic fighters, considered by many to be the best fighters of the Second World War.
- The first post-War light aircraft was the Yak-18 and this went through a number of variations in terms of single and two-seater aircraft and many thousands of the latter were made.
- The first serious single-seat aircraft was the Yak-18P, which in turn led to the PM and the PS, each model having lighter weight, more power and greater agility.
The 50 was the final iteration of these single seater Yaks and was designed by Sergei Yakovlev, the son of Yakovlev himself, and although a development of the Yak-18PS, was much lighter; had a totally stressed skin monocoque fuselage and the then new 360hp M14P engine.
- The aircraft was first flown in 1975, and after a considerable amount of testing was put into larger scale production at Arsenyev in the Russian Far East and deliveries began in early 1975. The Yak-50 was an outstanding success, and at the 1976 World Aerobatic Championships, took first, second and third in the men’s championships; first to fifth in the women’s as well as taking overall men’s and women’s team prizes.
- Unlike the Yak-52, the 50 was made in relatively small numbers (312) until 1985, of which the vast majority were for the Russian DOSAAF and exported were only eight to East Germany and six to Bulgaria.
- With the introduction of the Yak-55, Moscow instructed all DOSAAF Clubs to scrap the 50s and return the logbooks to Moscow. Most obeyed this edict, with the result that we now estimate that there are about 66 Yak-50s left in the world.