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At least four thrill seekers took up the chance to fly in a Russian Yak 3 fighter plane, aptly named Full Noise, at the weekend.
The Russian fighter Yak3 plane, scheduled to be here last month, was at Ashburton Airport offering those who were willing, and able to pay, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity of a 20-minute flight over the Ashburton district and beyond.
Full Noise owner Graeme Frew, of Blenheim, said it was one of the best fighter planes that the Russians produced in the Second World War.
He has owned it since 2004 and considers its purchase a memorable moment.
‘‘It was one of those I wish, I wonder, why not moments, and I just made it work,’’ he said.
The Yak3 was restored over time at Jem Aviation Ltd in Blenheim and finally flew at the Wanaka Air Show in 2012.
‘‘I bought it as a project and had it restored in Blenheim ... and I’ve been figuring out how to try and pay for it ever since.’’
Its ongoing maintenance has not to been too difficult to maintain.
‘‘It’s a good mix of Russian and American hardware and believe it or not a lot of the Russian stuff is pretty easy to find still. The engines can still get them overhauled and the propeller is off a DC3 so it’s all pretty common stuff,’’ he said.
It’s been ‘‘flying beautifully’’.
Mr Frew has been an Air New Zealand pilot for the past 25 years.
Prior to that he was in the New Zealand Air Force first signing up as an engineer aged 16 years old. He then did a pilots course while in the air force.
In his Yak 3 he regularly stops over at the Ashburton Airport as it’s a popular fuelling destination.
‘‘They’re so supportive,’’ he said of the district’s aviation community.
He was joined on the Ashburton flying trip by fellow pilot Ryan Southam who also took over some of the flying duties.
Mr Frew said during national Covid-19 lockdown a plan was hatched to offer rides to people in the Yak 3.
A rear seat was installed and an itinerary planned.
A planned visit to Ashburton last month was delayed due to Covid-19 but it went ahead at the weekend.
There were also other World War 2 aircraft on site including a tiger moth owned by Russell Brodie, of Rangitata Island
The Yak 3 has a V12 engine with 1250 horsepower and travels at an average speed of 420km/hour. It has a top speed of 600km/hour.
‘‘It burns a fair bit of fuel going from A to B but you’re also going a fair speed as well,’’ he said.
It was built as a short range interceptor so a full tank will empty in around 90 minutes flying time.
The rides were tailored to suit customers and could include the thrill of speed or acrobatic flying.
But Mr Frew said they were not into scaring customers or making them go green.