The YAK Pack is Back


Chinese Built YAK at Lamar Airport

The Lamar Municipal Airport played host to several pilots and their planes over the weekend. The annual gathering of YAK-52 airplanes from Russia and their Chinese counterparts, allow members of the YAK Red Star Pilots Association to hold practice flights for a weekend.

YAK pilots, McMillan and Haynes

Lamar resident, Allen Tinnes, also a YAK owner, is responsible for bringing in the annual event and is an active member in the national group.  Two flyers, Scott McMillan from Denver and Stephen Hayne from Ft. Collins provided some background to the annual activity during a break in the flying this past Saturday, September 30th.

“We’re here for formation and skill flying and this is only possible when a sizable group like this gets together,” McMillan explained. He added, “It’s a combination of pleasure and a hobby.  About a third of the membership is active or retired airline pilots and some of us have military backgrounds or just business owners or other professions with a passion for aviation.”  Hayne said a group of pilots in the briefing room at the airport just completed a flight and were getting an assessment of how everyone did.  McMillan added that, “We learn from that, what was right and what was correctable and then we go out again, trying to get better at what we do.”

They explained that there were two types of YAK aircraft being flown, mostly training aircraft from Russia and China that was built after the Second World War. The distinction between the two is in the shape of the tail, while one was rounded, the Russian type; and the Chinese had a more squared look.  The YAKs are propeller aircraft, not jets and were used basically for training purposes in both countries, with some technological styles ‘borrowed’ from one country to the other.

“We did a fly-over for the Lamar football game on Friday night,” McMillan said and there were plans that evening to make a run over the Spreading Antlers Golf Course at 6pm where the Two Shot Goose Hunt golf tournament was being held. “We’re planning a golf ball drop over one of the greens and whoever has a numbered ball that comes closest to the pin will be the winner.”  Other YAK owners have made similar courtesy runs over other football fields in the past, including a Wiley game last year.

McMillan added that the group had plans to arrive earlier in the week, but weather systems delayed some arrivals until late Friday. The majority of flights would be on Saturday and Sunday before the members left to fly home on Sunday afternoon and evening.

Blackhawk Helicopters at Lamar Airport

During the interview, the airport got busy again with the arrival of four Blackhawk helicopters that touched down for refueling. Allen Tinnes, along with new airport manager, Eric McSwan, made preparations to handle the new arrivals which landed and taxied in a formation at the gas tanks at the airport.  The Lamar Municipal Airport handles more flights than is generally noticed by local residents and maintains a consistently high reputation for service and accommodations for aircraft around the region.

By Russ Baldwin

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