There Appears to Be A Plane Flying Upside Down – Right Over My Head
We were flying into North Weald, I was in the left seat with Lee coming along for the ride as a passenger. The plan was to pick up Cliff who had been in London for meetings before taking Lee to Newcastle.
Lee is a commercial pilot and ex-CFI. He was flattering, in a backhanded manner, about my ability to fly the Saratoga: “so much better than the last time I flew with you!” I told him that I had been finding it difficult to keep up my hours, to find the time to stay in practice.
“Every time you fly into a small airfield, do circuits,” he said. “Just let them know as you approach that you’ll be doing a touch-and-go and a circuit or two before coming in for your landing. In fact, let’s do that right now.”
I called North Weald and told them that I was inbound to them and would like to do a few circuits before coming into land. He said that he had a plane looking to start aerobatics in 20 minutes but if I was quick, he didn’t mind.
Clearly, the polite thing to do would be to simply get out of the way and I confirmed to North Weald that I would simply come in to land and do my circuits another time. He sounded somewhat relieved as he contacted the pilot of the other plane to let him know that after the inbound PA 32 the field was clear for him to do his aerobatics.
Now one thing you need to know about North Weald is that it is directly underneath Stansted Airspace and as a result, you have to stay under 1,500 feet. As we taxied off the runway, we saw the other plane – a beautiful looking bright-red tail dragger that I later discovered was a Yak 55 – entering a spin directly in front of us.
“Oh my god,” said Lee. It was only at that moment that it dawned on us that he was going to do low level aerobatics directly over us, under Stansted’s airspace, with no margin for error.
I didn’t mean to block the taxiway but seeing the plane flying upside down directly in front of us, I instinctively slowed to a halt and watched, mouth wide open.
The Yak climbed at an impossible angle and then disappeared. We both leaned forward to look up. We saw it plummeting straight down towards us.
I couldn’t really think what I could possibly do to remedy the situation so I did the obvious: I closed my eyes.
I heard the engine gather steam and opened my eyes again to see the Yak climbing away. Lee kept his eyes open – in fact it took a few minutes for him to close his mouth.
The plane did a loop over our heads and then the tower called to ask where we were headed, a subtle hint that maybe we shouldn’t just park on the taxi-way, gawking like kids at the circus. We taxi’d to the other side of the Squadron and by the time we got out of the plane, the impromptu display was over.
The pilot parked the tail-dragger right in front of the Squadron and I was rather tickled to see its registration: G-OHNO
I found a video of the plane (no idea if the pilot is the same) on YouTube. All I can tell you is, I never saw it fly straight and level like this