Yak vs CAP -

comparing aerobatic trainers & cultures.

From The South Ramp --Hank Bruckner:

Oct 1999

--Hank Bruckner

Poor Man's Fly-In

Port Allen was the fly-in that almost wasn't. When we arrived, there was a dense little unforecast shower that kept us circling about six miles out until it passed. The showers maintained their passing presence until a little after eleven, and by 1230, the skies were wide open. Some of you made it, and most of you didn't. We did end up with five airplanes (three Pipers, one Mooney, and a Cessna), and one gyrocopter, however.

We have a great tool in flight planning--access to the NEXRAD radars on South Kaua'i, Moloka'i, Maui, and South Big Island. You can access them through Intellicast on the 'net and the graphics are usually within the half-hour. Radar showed some shower activity near Port Allen, and it did move on eventually--just not quite soon enough. Well, maybe next year I'll make it to the beach.


Most of the turmoil over Land And Hold Short (LAHSO) has settled and it would seem that a great deal of time and effort was expended to slay an ethereal dragon that was actually more like a ghecko. LAHSO was implemented to allow simultaneous operations at intersecting runways, provided one or more parties agreed to hold short of the intersection. This, in turn, increased the capacity at airports like Honolulu, Kahului, and to a lesser extent, Hilo, as well as a couple of hundred airports on the mainland. Here at Honolulu, LAHSO allowed the big guys to land or depart on 8 Left while others used the fours, keeping the flow moving nicely. You've probably noticed that you never get asked to hold short at Honolulu anymore. After a couple of incidents on the mainland, ALPA decided its pilots shouldn't play LAHSO anymore. Protracted negotiations with the FAA ensued, resulting in a return to the bad old pre-LAHSO days, for the most part. The carriers are no longer allowed to operate at intersecting runways if a GA is on the intersecting one, and many carriers just won't participate in LAHSO at all. It's made for some interesting gyrations, in the name of safety. Twice, now, I've had to do a 360 or abrupt 90 on base-to-final, in landing configuration, to insure that I wasn't touching down while a carrier was on its roll-out on an intersecting runway. In the grand scheme of things, it is apparently safer to maneuver with gear and flaps at 400 feet than to risk colliding with an airliner that only has nine thousand feet to stop in. I'm in no way blaming the controllers. LAHSO was a great tool that they used very effectively here. They now have to fit everyone in, often one runway at a time, and their job has become a whole lot harder. LAHSO now stands for Let's All Have Slower Operations. I hope I don't hear the airlines complain about delays anymore. This one's on them. Bottom Line: Be prepared to execute non-standard maneuvers while in the pattern at HNL. If you can't or prefer not to for safety's sake, let the controller know as soon as you can, so he/she can come up with another plan. It has become even more important to really pay attention to what the controllers are saying and maintain your highest level of situational awareness. Oh, and expect further delays. The ghecko is dead

Walter H. Dillingham

Walter H. Dillingham was buried this past September 18th. Walter was part of the aviation fabric of Hawai'i since the '30s. He was many things, and foremost among them was aviator. Look for more on this remarkable flier in a subsequent issue. Blue skies...


I've had the good fortune to spend some hours in the products of two very different approaches to roughly the same goal--the CAP-10B and the YAK-52. Both aircraft have been used as aerobatic military trainers with considerable success. The CAP-10 has been used by the French, Italian and Mexican air forces, to name a few, as well as many civilian flight schools. It's lineage is French, dating to the '70s, though its heritage goes considerably further back. The Yak is part of a continued series of trainers and other military aircraft from the Yakovlev Design Bureau in the former Soviet Union. While the -52 began in the late '70's, it is an outgrowth of the WWII-era Yaks and the Korean War-era YAK-18. In no way, of course, is the -52 a warmed-over 18; however the heritage is clear.

Each embodies the philosophy of the builder to quite an extent. The CAP-10 was designed for ease in handling, true flight characteristics, ease in maintenance, and be able to reach much of the European Continent when using the cross-country fuel tank. A single person can easily move the airplane, get in, start it and fly away. The Yak represents a very different approach. It is designed to be handled by a ground crew. Tellingly, it provides just enough fuel to complete the typical lesson, and no more--certainly not enough to take an errant pilot somewhere forbidden. You really need to have a ground crew to pull the prop through while you prime the cylinders. Otherwise, it just won't start. The French (and us, of course) value personal initiative. The Soviets (that's who they were when the -52 was designed) valued state control at the expense of the individual. You want to go fly? If everybody agrees, that can be arranged, and you'll fly when and where we say.

That being said, a closer look at these aircraft is in order.

CAP-10B YAK-52
HP 180 360
Gross Wt. 1,829 lb 2,843 lb
Wing Loading 14.34 lb/sq ft 17.66 lb/sq ft
Pwr Loading 10.6 lb/HP 7.89 lb/HP
Vne 184KT 230KT
Vso 45KT 54KT
Useful Load 612 638
Rate of Climb 1,100 ft/min 1,800 ft/min
Vy 85KT 92KT
Range (Front/both) 220(460)NM 162 NM
Cruise Speed 125 KT 119 KT
Fuel Burn (Average) 10 GPH 15-18GPH
Gz Limits +6/-4.5 +7/-5

OK, so what's it all mean? Well, first, the similarities. Both airplanes do pretty much what you ask them to. Both have gentle, predictable stalls and spins and straightforward handling, in the air. The Yak is a nosewheel airplane but is as challenging to handle on the ground as a taildragger because of the steering/brakes (more on that, later). The YAK-52 weighs 1,000 pounds more at gross and has twice the horsepower (1,829 vs 2,843 pounds, 180 vs 360 HP). With its higher wing loading and horsepower, you can expect greater vertical penetration in the Yak, and you get it. The CAP-10 has a slightly higher roll rate (180 vs 140); however, the Yak rolls about 25% faster to the right than to the left (engine turns the "other" way.) The roll is only slightly faster to the left than to the right in the CAP. The Yak has a 2 minute limit on inverted flight; the CAP has fully inverted systems and can fly upside down until you run out of gas. Practically speaking, of course, two minutes' okole maluna is plenty.

Quirks? Well, the CAP-10 is a taildragger, but unlike most, is not fully stalled in the three-point attitude. This gives you good visibility over the nose on the ground, but means you need a little delicacy on landing to not pull it off the ground again. Three-point and wheel landings are fairly simple affairs, and that huge rudder gives you more than ample control, until you try to taxi in a strong crosswind.

The Yak has a castoring nosewheel and pneumatic brakes that are applied with a lever on the joy stick. Squeeze the lever and you get both brakes. If you only want one brake, you squeeze the lever and apply rudder in the direction that you want to brake. Taxiing is a two-handed job, unless you have to change frequencies, in which case it becomes a three-handed job (left hand on the power, right hand on the stick and brake lever, and the other right hand to tune the radio). In fact, the Yak doesn't have a hydraulic system at all. Pneumatics power the brakes, the flaps, and even the starter. Archaic, perhaps, but you don't have to worry about the viscosity of hydraulic fluid in the sub-zero of Siberia or the relative warmth of the Black Sea. Just need to make sure you have enough air in the tank. If you run the air supply down by a few false starts (or forgetting to shut the air valve after you're done), you're stuck until you recharge the bottle (Russian fitting, of course, so not just any air bottle will do). Of course, for about $40,000 more than a standard -52, you can get a Westernized one, complete with hydraulics and Clevelands, knots and feet. The original is in meters and kilometers, except for the power and RPM, which are expressed in percents (rather than inches of manifold pressure and RPM). Trains you for the MiG in your future. For $40,000, I'd learn to use the pneumatics and convert the klicks to miles. One other difference is that the engine turns counterclockwise (from the cockpit) and requires left rudder to counter torque, P-factor and precession. That's fairly easy to adapt to, although I still have to think my way through a hammerhead in it (RIGHT RUDDER at the pivot and LEFT AILERON).

The Yak is also messy. Radial-engined messy. The M-14 engine doesn't scavenge oil, so you MUST pull the prop through about nine times before you start. If you're downwind when you do that, you get black oil on your legs and shoes. But it sounds like a radial (which is good) and acts like a radial (which is also good), and the M-14P engine seems to be very rugged. One neat thing is that you can fly with the canopy open (closed for acro). You only get to do that once in the CAP-10 (or the Extra-300).

Two different approaches--both successful, in their own way. The CAP-10 is certainly easier to operate and is one of the nicest flying airplanes I've ever flown. The Yak is also relatively easy to fly, and is serious fun. I'm still getting to know it. Cool. Ain't flying fun?


I recently completed my annual airborne TV cable leak check, covering virtually all of O'ahu, most of the Big Island, and almost all of Maui in 21 hours of flying. The weather was perfect and the airplane performed flawlessly. Equally important, however, was the superb cooperation we received from ATC throughout. Honolulu, Maui and Big Island controllers were instrumental in being able to fly our grids successfully and efficiently. Thanks.


The image of what was once a Chieftain with ten people aboard is burned into my mind. When an aircraft collides with the terrain, something is obviously very wrong. Whatever the ultimate cause will be found to be (if at all) by the NTSB, the accident is a stark reminder that mountain flying is challenging. It matters little how much time is in your log book or how good your last landing was. The only thing that matters is now and soon-to-be now. All too often, those with axes to grind, oxen to gore, information deficit, or just an inflated sense of self worth, will seize on this type of event to push their agenda. Fact is, adventure, or life, for that matter, cannot be made risk free. We all practice risk management every time we fly, and that is as it should be. Risk management is not risk elimination. Nor is it accomplished by ignoring the risk. It involves reducing risk to acceptable, manageable levels. The air tour industry is one of the most heavily-regulated and scrutinized industries in existence. I hope that those in positions of authority recognize that more regulation is not only unnecessary but even likely to be counterproductive.

Please, let's be careful out there.

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