I heard the sound long before I saw the speck. Like many objects, the sound of a big, vintage aircraft, powered by whopping big pistons with a straight pipe exhaust is unmistakable, you just know something wicked fast is headed your way, your blood starts to race as you try to discern what is making the ground start to shake. (Ladies it's a guy thing) My memory is pretty clear on the sound of a Rolls Royce Merlin, and Pratt and Whitney Double Wasp, but Friday I was hearing something new.
It was the weekend fly-in here in Omaruru where the Namibian flying community and sometimes pilots from the rest of the SADC come for a party, any excuse for some airtime is good enough, and if there happens to be some loud music, grilled meat and cold beer attached, so much the better. Normally, it's a collection of small single engine, civilian aircraft, Cessna's, Pipers, and a motley mix of microlights. The sound of all these are familiar to me (and to you, even if you don't know it) Drifting into town, their tiny little engines screaming like a cage full of squirrels on crack, they float into our little dirt strip, pushed up and down with the winds, unable to mount much resistance in spite of their hopped up rodents.
Look don't get me wrong they're darling little planes, you can land them in a parking lot or on a dirt track if you have to and there is nothing cheaper to take to the skies with, unless you can sprout a pair of wings. Still though in a way, its very similar to the difference between a Hyundai Getz and a 67 Shelby GT 500. They both do the same thing, which, does it better, is a matter of personal taste and if the truth be spoke, wallet. And so, a few moments after the little green bug above landed, this beast reared its head and said "Hi", at something approaching 300 kilometers per hour, about 3 meters off the deck.
This was new.... something I had never seen in all my hours of "research" on the history channel. Turns out its a Nanchang China CJ-6A fully aerobatic military trainer, based on the 1945 Russian YAK18, but believe it or not improved on by the Chinese, it is powered by a 9 cylinder radial air cooled engine. which is why it sounded and went far more like the Shelby then the Getz.
This somewhat primitive looking brute is owned by Jacques Jacobs of Bataleur Aviation in Swakopmund and he was in town for the above mentioned reasons and for the price of a decent meal, let people tie a white scarf around their necks and feel what it's like, if only for a few moments to rip the sky asunder.
I suspect though that there were thoughts like these running through the new fearless WW2 fighter jocks frontal lobes...
Dear God in heaven, what madness has overtaken me and PLEASE O PLEASE let this guy know WTF he's doing and SweetbabyJesus what possessed me to strap my sorry ass into something sporting this on its tail ??????
The answer to this rhetorical question lies in between this:
And looked a lot like this:
Post Script: No I didn't go for a ride, it had nothing to do the label and everything to do with my stomach. The worst thing about barfing in a plane is when you do and then you stall at the top of a loop, well you get the picture, and besides I'm a photographer and my job was to take pictures.......
Omaruru Monday 5:48pm