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'Full Noise' - A Reno Racer And A Fighter

Yakovlev Yak-3

The Yak 3 was the ultimate Soviet fighter aircraft of the Second World War - so much so that the Luftwaffe issued an order that all fighter squadrons were to avoid combat with any Yak lacking an oil cooler under the noise unless they were at a height of over 5000m. This is one of the reasons why this aircraft as featured as a racer at the National Championship Air Races in Reno, Nevada.

'Full Noise' seen in the golden glow of a summer sunset at Omaka Aerodrome, Blenheim,. New Zealand.  Photo: © Historical Aviation Film Unit

In the early 1990’s there was a gap in the warbird market—Spitfires & Mustangs were relatively commonplace yet none of the excellent V-12 powered Yak fighters built during The Great Patriotic War were airworthy. Following the discovery of original engineering drawings and jigs from late model Yak 3 production, Sergei Yakovlev—who is the son of the legendary Aleksandr Yakovlev—approached Flight Magic of the U.S. to fund a build of new Yak 3 aircraft. These aircraft were to the original design but utilized modern materials.

Various engines were considered including the original Russian V-12 Klimovs & the Rolls-Royce Merlin before the builders settled on the V1710 series Allison. This engine was selected because it was very close in power, weight and external dimensions to the extremely rare Klimov.

Yak 3 serial number 0470106 was first registered to well known Reno race pilot Tiger Destefani in 1996 before being sold later that year. The aircraft was raced at Reno a number of times but unfortunately it crashed on take-off at Reno in 1999. Luckily the owner though injured, made a full recovery, testimony to the strength of the design.

Graeme Frew (ex-RNZAF) purchased the aircraft as a project in 2004 and had it shipped to Omaka Aerodrome at Blenheim. A full overhaul of the airframe and engine and all systems was completed by JEM Aviation over a four year period. During the rebuild a second seat was incorporated under its own sliding canopy so the experience of flying in this high performance fighter can be shared.

In 2017, New Zealand owner/pilot Graeme Frew became the first person in history to qualify for the Gold race at their first Reno Championship Air Races (Nevada, USA).

The Yak first flew again in March 2012 and a week later débuted at Warbirds over Wanaka. Since then Graeme has also raced the aircraft at Reno (Nevada, USA), using the race name 'Full Noise', and in 2017 he became the first person in history to qualify for the premier Gold Race at their first Reno Chamionship Are Races.

The aircraft is now permanently based at Omaka Aerodrome, Blenheim, New Zealand. If you're keen enough, you can Book A Ride in this iconic Soviet aircraft.

This video shows two Russian Yak 3 fighters from the Second World War (including 'Full Noise') are shown here during their display at the Warbirds Over Wanaka 2012 airshow held at Wanaka, New Zealand.

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