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On debut in India, UK flying team Yakovlevs draws all eyes

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UK's aerobatic display team Yakovlevs performs during the inauguration of the AERO INDIA 2015 at Yelahanka Air Base in Bengaluru on Wednesday. A PTI Photo.

BENGALURU (PTI): Yakovlevs - a four aircraft aerobatic display team from the UK flying Russian-origin Yak aircraft -- made its debut at the 'Aero India' air show here on Thursday, enthralling the audience and winning hearts.

The team usually flies six Russian-designed Yak aircraft that combine the performance of a Spitfire with world class aerobatic manoeuvrability.

However, at 'Aero India', the team is operating only four Yaks. The lead aircraft is a modified Yak-52, once the primary training aircraft for sport pilots of the former Soviet Bloc.

Derived from Yak-18 and Yak-50, the first Yak-52 was flown 24 years ago. Over 1,800 Yak-52s have been built and it is still in production.

The Yakovlevs 'Super 52' is a unique example, modified for display flying is flown by team leader and owner Jez Hopkinson.

Surrounding the Yak-52 are three single-seater Yak-50s.

The team flies the 'box' formation when they are displaying.

Yak-50, designed by Sergei Yakovlev, is one of the world's greatest aerobatic aircraft, an release issued by the Ministry of Defence said.

First flown in 1975, Yak-50 was an outstanding success from the start. At the 1976 World Aerobatic Championships, it bagged 10 prizes in various categories including overall men's and women's team prizes. Similar success was enjoyed at the 1980 World Championships as well.

Unlike Yak-52, Yak-50 was made in relatively small numbers. It is estimated that there are less than 30 Yak-50s left in the world that still fly, with the team having three.

The Yakovlevs was first formed 12 years ago and has flown over 1,200 displays in 11 countries.

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