A Ride in Russian Thunder - Full Scale Yak 54! - RC Groups
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Oct 05, 2010, 10:08 AM
Jim T. Graham's Avatar

A Ride in Russian Thunder - Full Scale Yak 54!

Last week I was in Corvallis, Oregon for the wedding of Jim and Annette Bourke. There were a lot of fun activities that took place but I though y'all might want to hear about my airplane adventure. Jim took us out in the evening to check out his plane "Russian Thunder". 14 Yak 54s were built in 1990's as jet trainers and while you see them a lot as a radio control plane, in reality there is only one flying that I know of, and that is Jim's plane. The airport had it out on display when we got there but it was a little late to fly it. The next morning SleepyC (FlyingGiants.com) and woke up to overcast weather. We weren't sure if we would really get a ride in this historical and high powered machine. By 2 PM it was clear enough to fly. Sitting in Russian Thunder is like sitting in a 60's muscle car, it just feels fast. I strapped on my parachute and got my nerves together to take to the air. As we were rolling out to take off Jim B. said over the radio, "are you alright?". I guess my lack of non-stop talking had made Jim B. think I was having second thoughts. I commented that I was completely calm and had been more nervous maidening RC planes. Jim said some people express regret immediately before take off. The plane literally jumped off the ground and the 360 HP motor sounded smooth and strong. The weather was calm so the ride was smooth. Jim B. let me control the plane for a while. The plane was amazingly sensitive. You just had to think about moving the stick and she was pointed that direction. Then we went into some aerobatics. We started with a loop. I think this is where we pulled the most Gs. I pulled a little over 4.5. I think Sleepy had pulled more than 5. Then we did a roll. I told them that felt good so we did a 4 point roll and then an 8 point roll. For some I reason I liked these a lot. We also did some inverted flight. The view inverted is unreal but when my legs lifted off the floor of the plane and I realized my life was being held in place by the straps I was ready to roll back over. After a while JB told me that was about as much as he did for a first time flight. I told him that I felt fine but evidently when you get sick in a plane it hits you all at once. We headed back to the airport but JB got some steep banking turns in before we landed. For some reason I really enjoy taking off and landing. The Yak 54 can literally scream down from the sky and hit the brakes right before touch down. For such a small plane it was really smooth. While taxing in I got the taste of oil in my mouth from the motor and that stayed with me for a few hours to remind me of the flight.
It was a ride of a lifetime and friends keep reminding me that not many people have had the privilege of flying in a Yak 54. Thanks to JB for letting us ride in his bird!

I put together a video of photos and some footage from my "Russian Thunder" experience and added a song I recorded for background music.

Russian Thunder - Yak 54 - Photos and Aerobatic Video (2 min 32 sec)
Last edited by Jim T. Graham; Oct 05, 2010 at 11:18 AM.
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Oct 05, 2010, 10:23 AM
Wishing I was at Torrey Pines
dee-grose's Avatar
Very cool, Jim...and Jim! Ever since Jim B posted on his blog about you flying with him, I've been waiting for you to blog about it. Sounds like a fun ride for sure. I'd jump at the chance myself.

Oct 05, 2010, 01:38 PM
14s 180mah should be enough...
IFLYOS's Avatar
Jim T., that has to be the coolest ride ever....Hats off to you and "Papa Nallman" for the ride, and of course "Papa" & Annette!

Tim (Needs more cowbell)
Latest blog entry: Intro..a few years to late!
Oct 05, 2010, 04:28 PM
RCG Admin
Jason Cole's Avatar
Awesome!!!! Yet another story to add to your list of crazy cool stuff you did in your lifetime. Rack em' up buddy! You should definitely write an autobiography someday.

Jason Cole
Nov 26, 2010, 02:11 PM
Suspended Account
Do you think you'd get more youtube hits if you did puke in his Yak?

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