Thursday, 20 October 2011

Flying In A Russian Classic - The Antonov AN2 Colt - Worlds Largest Single Engined Biplane

Although I don't fly myself, many of you are aware of my passion for aviation which over the years has provided the chance to fly in a number of different types. Recently, thanks to the generosity of a friend, I had the rare opportunity to take a short flight in an Antonov An2, one of only two currently operating within the UK.

Widely recognised as the worlds largest single engined biplane, (An3 is slightly bigger, but is a modified An2) the An2 first took to the air in 1947. By the end of the production run in 1991 nearly 18,000 examples had been produced by the Soviet Union, Poland and China, the latter two countries producing the type under licence. Code named 'Colt' by NATO the An2 has been in use with many nations including Afghanistan, Albania, Angola, Azerbaijan, Byelorussia, Bulgaria, China, Croatia, Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Georgia, Germany,Hungary, Laos, Latvia, Mali, Mongolia, Nicaragua, North Korea, Poland, Romania, Russia, Slovak Republic, Tadjikistan, Ukraine, USSR, Uzbekistan and Vietnam.

At 6'3" USA Goalkeeper Marcus Hahnemann provides some idea of the size of the An2

The example that I got the opportunity to fly on, was the Lithuanian registered LY-AUP. Based at Tattenhill this example is often seen attending airshows in the capable hands of John Calverley. On this occasion a friend had called by to say that he would be flying the AN2, with John, into Halfpenny Green the following day and that all being well there might be an opportunity to take a trip. Well the photos tell the story, although time was very tight, Marcus kindly made the trip happen.

     The business end and the back end - basic but functional.                                 Smokey start up!

John and Marcus line the An2 up for a landing on the 10 grass strip.

The flight was over all too soon, but I owe a big thank you to John for sparing the time (hope you weren't too late back to Tattenhill) and Marcus for providing the unique opportunity to sample the wonderful An2.

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