From Russia With Love: The YAK-50

Developed by the famous WWII Russian fighter design bureau, Yakovlev OKB, the YAK-50 was conceived from the outset to dominate the world aerobatic competition scene in the mid 1970's.


In the early 1970’s the Soviet Union was looking to recapture its once dominance on the world aerobatic stage. Wanting to reclaim the title of Champion from French, British, and German National Aerobatic Teams, the Soviet Union elected to design a new aircraft that could not only compete, but win at the World Aerobatic Championships. With success in building light aircraft, military trainers, and nimble fighters, Yakovlev OKB was tasked to develop such an aircraft.


A further evolution of the storied 1940's YAK-18 lineage of aircraft, many enhancements were made to the design to improve both aerobatic performance and strengthen the airframe to be able to withstand the extreme loads placed on the aircraft throughout the unlimited aerobatic flight envelope. An all metal design and equipped with the reputable Vedeneyev M-14P radial engine producing 360 horsepower, the YAK-50 first flew on June 25th, 1975. Much more agile than other contemporary aircraft, the design also allowed for prolonged inverted flight by way of an inverted fuel and oil system. The aircraft had retractable landing gear, but had no flaps, and maintained its predecessors fabric covered control surfaces to save weight.  


A combination of superb maneuverability and a high thrust to weight ratio allow the YAK-50 to put on a high energy aerobatic display, all while keeping the show right in front of the judges at competitions and the fans at air shows. This resulted in the YAK-50 being twice the World Aerobatic Champion. A true thoroughbred, the YAK-50 boasts some impressive performance numbers: With a top speed of 450 km/h, a roll rate of 200 degrees per second, and the ability to withstand +9G, this Russian classic is still a formidable competitor.


Our YAK-50, affectionately named 'Катя' (pronounced Kat-ya), was built in 1976 behind the iron curtain of the Soviet Union.  After winning multiple aerobatic contests, she was sold to a private collector in Australia. Geoff had the great fortune to acquire this unique and historic aerobatic aircraft in the spring of 2019.



Type:  Яковлев ЯК-50 (Yakovlev YAK-50)

Origin:  Soviet Union

First Flight:  25 June 1975

Role:  Sport Aerobatics


Length:  7.8 m (25 ft 9 in)

Height:  3.2 m (10 ft 7 in)

Wingspan:  9.5 m (31 ft 4 in)

Takeoff Weight:  995 kg (2,193 lb)


Powerplant:  360 Horsepower Vedeneyev M-14P 9 Cylinder Radial Engine

Stall Speed:  100 km/h (54 kts)

Cruise Speed:  270 km/h (146 kts)

Max Speed:  450 km/h (243 kts)

Max Climb:  18.8 m/s (3,700 fpm)

Range:  720 km (390 nm)

Ceiling:  4,000 m (13,123 ft)

Load Rating:  +9G / -6G