The former USSR’s Design Bureau originally designed the 360-HP Yak-52 as a light aerobatic trainer for the military. After training in the Yak-52, the pilot would graduate to a jet airplane. Today, mostly private owners use the tricycle-geared two-seat aircraft as an aerobatic plane. The Yak-52 is also desirable for those who operate on grass strips. Production of the aircraft began in 1978 and it is now being manufactured by Aerostar, a company based in Romania.
For pilots unaccustomed to the Yak-52, using the rudder pedals is awkward at first because they require air pressure from the brake lever in order to work. If brake pressure is applied for too long, the airplane becomes difficult to steer or it will turn too sharply. Correct rudder usage with the Yak-52 requires the right combination of power, braking, and rudder. In addition to using air pressure for the rudder and breaks, it’s also used for the landing gear and flaps. The retractable landing gear protrudes slightly from the airplane’s belly. This is to protect the plane if the gear cannot extend or if the pilot forgets to lower the wheels.
The Yak-52 is capable of performing an aileron roll at almost any speed. However, its spin recovery can be tricky. The aircraft has a tendency to enter a flat spin from a stall turn. Up to 220 pounds of opposite rudder force and 90 pounds of stick force may be necessary to recover from the spin. For many pilots, such strength isn’t possible.
Another potential problem with the Yak-52 occurs when baggage is improperly loaded. Because the elevator bellcrank is located in the fuselage’s aft compartment, it has a tendency to jam from objects that roll into that area. Owners can purchase and install an after-market FOD Prevention Cover to eliminate this problem.
To date, more than 1,800 of the Yak-52s have been produced for customers all over the world. The latest version of the Yak to be produced by Aerostar in Romania is the Yak-52W, a tail dragger plane with a more powerful 400-HP engine.
Maximum speed: 270 km per hour
Range: 500 km
Ceiling: 4,000 meters
Length: 7.745 meters
Wingspan: 9.3 meters
Height: 2.7 meters
Maximum weight: 1,355 kg
Empty weight: 1,035 kg
Engine(s): One 360-HP M-14P radial air-cooled piston engine
Rate of climb: 1,400 feet per minute
Maximum G-loading: +7/-5 Gs
Crew: One pilot and up to one passenger, or one instructor and one student