Gostilitsy, Saint Petersburg (ULSG) - 31 May 2010

We drove to the West of Saint Petersburg to the small general aviation (GA) airfield of Gostilitsy, where the more usual Russian built aircraft were scattered around. There were a couple of very smart Yak-18 and Yak-52 aircraft here and this looked to be busier than the previously visited Kasimovo, with some microlight aircraft being readied for flight as we arrived. There were a couple of western aircraft types here including a Spanish registered PA-25 Pawnee, a Cessna 188 Ag Truck and an American registered Lake 250 Renegade. A single An-2, 0205K, was parked on the grass the other side of the single concrete runway, and we were asked if we would like a ride. Most of us accepted the offer but we had a couple in the party that decided that they'd flown on enough of these before - well that was until we were told that we would be landing away at a second airfield.

Georgi asked if anyone wanted to actually fly the An-2. Well as we only had two pilots on this trip and Bob, who flies Boeing 757s, wasn't bothered if he flew the An-2 or not, naturally I stepped forward to volunteer. I pulled myself up into the right seat in the elevated cockpit and I had a non-English speaking pilot in the left seat. Georgi helped the pilot with the startup and we taxied the short distance onto the runway next to us. Full power and we were off in no time in a gentle climb. After a couple of minutes the pilot gestured to me to take control, and, although we spoke no common language, we each understood what was required using hand signals. What direction to fly, when to climb and descend, and who had the controls. I left the engine management alone as I had no idea what settings were required for the big radial engine.

Next stop Kummolovo.

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