- Vertical take-off and landing require special skills. Classical training received by the pilot, strongly interfere? Is it difficult to retrain in "verticalshchiki"?
- I just did not get a classic flight education. I graduated from MAI in 1972 year. While studying, I flew in the DOSAAF aeroclub. Distributed me in LII them. Gromov, worked as an engineer at the School of Test Pilots Minaviaproma and took the fortress from the inside. Just then, at the Smolensk Aviation Plant, they launched the Yak-18T series, and I was among the students of this very school. After graduation, I went to Smolensk as a factory test pilot, then to Tbilisi in the same capacity as a serial plant, but flew already on the MiG-21UM. And in 1980, I was invited to a test pilot at the Yakovlev company. By the time the Yak-38 was produced in series, even the first modifications began to appear, respectively, and the tests were in full swing. I joined them, but not immediately - I started with transport flights. Then the test bases were many, the message was maintained with all, because the fate of all the new arrivals was the same - the right seat in the Yak-40 and Yak-42. Test flights along the way.
To join the Yak-38 program, it was necessary to master the piloting of the helicopter, since in the hover mode the algorithm of actions is similar. But there are fundamentally different moments. First, the helicopter lands on an air cushion, under which pressure is higher than the ambient. And under the plane there is a vacuum, it sucks. Secondly, the center of gravity of the helicopter is below the point of application of lift, in contrast to an aircraft standing on gas jets. It can be compared with a bulb, in one case located in a hole, and in the other - on a bulge. The very behavior of gas jets and the method of controlling them became the subject of numerous studies and dissertations, the picture there is very complicated.
- By the time you came to the "verticalshchiki" already had the experience of predecessors. Were all the aircraft accepted or were those who could not cope with it?
- The leading test pilot of the very first Yakovlev “vertical” - Yak-36, which was shown, including at the parade in 1967 in Domodedovo, was Valentin Grigorievich Mukhin, Hero of the Soviet Union. He also began to work with the Yak-38. Of course, the machine is specific to mastering. In my opinion, it all starts from the roots, from the theory. If a person understands how everything works and works, if all this is passed through the head first, and then through the hands, only then you can feel the plane. "Vertikalka" flies in three modes - the classic aircraft, hovering due to jets and transitional, combining the first two. And success depends on understanding what happens at each stage. For a pilot with a lot of experience behind him, all his previous baggage is often inapplicable. Many, even those who had the qualifications of a tester, turned out to be very difficult to break themselves. They are telling how one very eminent colleague first flew by helicopter - naturally, in the right-hand seat. Before landing, the speed is reduced, which, as a rule, is associated with aerodynamic shaking. And all the man's airplane reflexes rebelled, he began to look for catapult holders. It is clear why - the speed drops, the vibration increases, the height is minimal. On the plane, this means stalling will happen now. What is the normal psyche will stand? Because not all coped. The Yak-36 was attracted to a large group of experienced pilots from LII to the tests of the first “vertical”, but many were not able to work with this machine. When I started to fly, everything became easier - automation was constantly improved and took on many functions. This simplified the work, but did not cancel the reflexes. Mukhina on tests Yak-38 was replaced by Mikhail Sergeyevich Deksbakh, later Hero of the Soviet Union. It was he who essentially managed to completely change the attitude of the pilots to the car. Focus in what? It was believed that if during the tests the power unit fails, then the height of up to two meters seems to be safe, nothing will happen if you fall either with the machine or the pilot. Therefore, it is this height that was chosen for hovering tests. The car in a semi-free state was hung above the concrete. But for a “vertical”, a height of up to two meters is a reactive “garbage”, where gas jets, reflecting from concrete and colliding, behave in the most unpredictable way. The plane chats terribly, keeping it at such a height is almost impossible. Obviously, pilots didn’t evoke optimism. And when Dexbach intuitively turned on the gas and lifted the car up five meters, the situation magically changed: the plane in hover mode became much more docile and controllable. From that moment on, it was this height that became the base for both hover tests and pilot training.
The Yak-38 was also notable for the unique automatic ejection system, not only calculated by pitch and roll, but also taking into account the speed at which the machine approached the boundary values. This system, which was included in the climb of two meters, saved the lives of many pilots.
The experience gained in the tests led to the fact that to recruit "vertical" in the sea Aviation became not from those who already had a solid touch and accumulated reflexes, but from graduates of schools for whom adaptation to unusual piloting conditions was faster and easier. Although experience is not always a hindrance, it is mainly a matter of psychology. They recruited “vertical men” from helicopter pilots, having previously trained them in piloting a fighter. Pilots, respectively, were taught helicopter piloting.
- Just your situation ...
- I didn’t immediately sit down on the Yak-38, although I was transferred to KB with an eye on this car. There were not enough pilots, there was a lot of transport work, and no one was in a hurry to transfer me to the "verticals". At that time, Alexander Yakovlev’s first deputy, who by the time I came to the company was already retiring, was the chief designer of the design bureau Kerim Bekirovich Bekirbayev, who devoted a lot of energy to vertical topics. In many ways, thanks to him, the topic has developed. And it was in his hands was my fate. When I finally could not stand it, I approached Bekirbayev and asked: “Why don't they cook me on Yak-38?”, He answered unexpectedly: “But really, why?”. And gave the command to make a program for me. Nikolay Bessonov taught me in a helicopter, God rest his soul - he died at the G8. I received tolerances for Mi-4 and Mi-8, while flying to LII at MiG-21. But we didn’t have the Sparky Yak-38, but in Saki, there was a naval aviation combat center. The whole story came out with the agreement - Minaviaprom, the Ministry of Defense, the Navy ... I went to Saki, when there was some last signature left, it should have been delivered from day to day. True, I was waiting for her in the Crimea for almost six months. I was mainly taken by the regiment commander for flight training, Volodya Kuchuyev, also already passed away. The guy was wonderful, he became a lieutenant colonel in 29 years, he flew great on the "vertical". But I spent half a year knowingly - in the morning I went to the start, watched the takeoffs and landings, studied the style of piloting, noted some mistakes. I analyzed, I listened attentively to the flight debriefing, so everything went pretty easy for me and I got access to independent work on the Yak-38 quickly.
- And then they returned to the design office with an allowance for the Yak-38 and ...
- Work on this subject for me was not a whole year. On the next painted test program. At that time there were three of us on this car, two experienced ones - Mikhail Deksbakh and Yuri Mitikov, I am young and early. Naturally, they put me everywhere understudy. But it so happened that one flew away on a long trip to Afghanistan, the other fell ill, and the whole amount of test work hung on me. That year I spent a lot of programs, flew into the car, I really liked it. Then there was a modification of the Yak-38M, the lead on it was Mitikov, I had a backup for him.
By the time we experienced a takeoff with a short run-up. It turned out - the most effective thing. During the run-up, the entire shaft of aerodynamic garbage remained behind, the effect of suction disappeared, to compensate for which a fair share of power and fuel was consumed. But the development of this regime was given very hard. As a result, the scheme worked: engine start, main engine nozzle - from the horizon 30 degrees, revolutions of the lifting engines slightly rise, and in this state the run begins. When the speed of 80 – 100 is reached, kilometers per hour, the automatics performs a vertical take-off and the car starts. This way of taking off increased the payload of the machine by 1200 kilograms, a huge number. It turns out either a significant increase in the bomb load, or an equally significant increase in the radius of action. After all, the weight was the most critical parameter for the Yak-38 and, as far as I know, for all the inventions and development proposals that worked to reduce the mass of individual nodes, in the design bureau they gave good prizes. And then immediately such an increase only because of the change of the algorithm of takeoff! That is, we can safely say that the car had enormous hidden reserves. At the same time, science believed that such a take-off for aircraft of the Yak-38 type is impossible in principle due to the fact that the pilot cannot control the three engines synchronously at the moment of separation. There was even an official conclusion that taking off with a short run-up on this car is impossible. Bekirbayev kept this paper in his possession for a long time. But it was thanks to him and the scientists from LII, who had substantiated and thoroughly calculated the methodology, that a takeoff with a shortened run-up became possible. From KB on this program worked Mitikov and Deksbakh, from LII - a wonderful pilot Oleg G. Kononenko. He died just in this mode during tests from a ship in the Far East. You saw that the "nozzles" did not go away with him during takeoff, but it was not possible to find out the specific cause of the catastrophe: the car was not immediately lifted up; it lay in salt water for several months. As it was not found out why the pilot did not eject. I myself flew quite a bit on ships, with the Yak-38 I worked on the Black Sea and then from the Yak-141 - on the Barents Sea.
But as a result, the WRC mode, a takeoff with a short run-up, after everything was worked out, turned out to be very simple and, in addition, saves a huge amount of fuel. In takeoff mode, as far as I remember, the 38-I car ate five kilograms of kerosene per second, and it turned out that with a purely vertical take-off of kilograms of 300, it was spent even at the most efficient work of the pilot. A similar landing, also known as “landing with slipping,” is carried out at a speed of 80 kilometers per hour. Its principle is that when a car goes down, it leaves the aerodynamic “garbage” about which we spoke.
- Could hover mode at a height of, say, 2000 meters be used to solve combat missions?
- It was tested, in particular during tests in Afghanistan. But there, in addition to the high mountains (and in these conditions, the thrust falls) was also very hot, the car barely rose, having only a couple of rockets. Therefore, the tests were carried out; they proved the possibility of using the “vertical” in such conditions, but were convinced that the combat effectiveness of the classic Su-25 attack aircraft in the high mountains is much higher.
What is the point of using "vertical"? Virtually no band needed. Give a stub length 120 – 150 meters, and we take off. WFP during the fighting become almost the main objectives. And we will take off from any surviving piece of concrete. The take-off programs were worked out directly from concrete shelters, which, if needed, made it possible to simultaneously lift into the air all available aircraft without waiting for their turn on the runway. There was a project when the Yak-38 took off from the trailer and boarded it, and the transformable landing pad was also the container in which the aircraft was transported. These tests were successfully conducted by Oleg Kononenko in 1980. To facilitate orientation, a special optical visual landing system was created, which allowed the pilot to see the space under the plane.
It turns out that the first great advantage of the “verticals” is work outside the airfields, this is on land. As a result - covert movement to any point, take-off from any platform. And at sea, it is possible to use practically any vessels for basing and take-off / landing, tests of launch from container ships were carried out. This program was perfectly worked out by instructors from the Saki Center, thus proving that with vertical take-off aircraft any barge can be turned into an aircraft carrier.
- The Yak-38 in its parameters corresponded to the attack aircraft, and the Yak-141 was originally developed as a supersonic fighter. It was you who were the first to lift it into the air, and who, if not you, would appreciate it ...
- Between 141 and 38-y machines was still Yak-39. Formally, the modernization of the Yak-38, but in fact a completely different machine. This project did not take place, although, in my opinion, it would be very useful. And the Yak-141 was developed for a very long time, mainly because of problems with the power plant. At first, one engine was planned that would be able to work “for three” according to the “Harrier” English scheme. Then, due to technical problems, they returned to the three-engine layout. Work began somewhere in the 1979 year, and I made the first flight only in 1987.
The Harrier had a big advantage over the Yak-38 - one engine, not three. The engine is dual-circuit, two front nozzles were taken from the “cold” primary circuit, the two rear ones were already “hot”. It has less pressure of gas jets, which allowed working from the ground. In LII, experiments were also carried out on the take-off of the Yak-38 from the ground, with the installation of special protective nets on the air intakes. The takeoff with a short run-up was obtained, but it did not become standard for the car.
Another advantage of the two-circuit engine "Harrier" - significantly lower fuel consumption. It cannot be said that our engines could not create such a power plant. Rather, they did not have due interest: the work is specific and time-consuming, and the serial order will certainly be small.
- If we talk about the feelings of the pilot, the difference between light and heavy machine is very noticeable?
- The YN-141 turned out to be a percent 60 heavier than the Yak-38, and in piloting it was very noticeable, mainly due to the increased moments of inertia. It was necessary to control the car very carefully, especially on hovering.
The first flight on the Yak-141 was performed on 9 March 1987 of the year. Taking off like an airplane, then the contour of the vertical take-off was not yet brought to mind, but they were in a hurry with tests. Engine developers have assigned 50 hours of engine resources, if not less: there were, as far as I know, problems with the destruction of the nozzle on the stand, so the engines insured. The first test program included twenty flights. After I completed three of them, Bekirbayev calls: “That's all, Andrew, we’re finishing the program, sending the engine for revision.” I tried to object: the program is there, I fly like normal, why stop it? And he: while you are quietly flying there, we are all in a pre-infarction state. They knew that the engine was still raw, that there could be a failure at any time. And to me something is young, an interesting program. Just fly! Then the tests were stopped for two months, which as a result resulted in two years.
A total of four Yak-141 were built - one bench, one for static tests and two flight vehicles. In flight, the control systems differed slightly, with a greater or lesser degree of automation. In September-October 1991, both flight copies were delivered to the Northern Fleet for testing. I happened to be the first to land the Yak-141 on the aircraft-carrying cruiser Admiral Gorshkov and take off from it. That test cycle was essentially the last for the Yak-141. One car crashed and completely out of order.
- What does your ship experience say?
- "Vertikalki" when used with ships is much more humane in relation to the pilot than the classic aircraft. When landing on the aerofinisher, the pilot experiences colossal longitudinal overloads, which affects health, particularly in the eyes and spine. Therefore, the restriction of the number of landings in the flight shift at the deck pilots was introduced. And the approach itself, when the most exact observance of the glide path is required, causes the strongest tension. "Vertikalka" in this regard is very comfortable. We carried out in due time tests on instrumental approach when landing on the ship - the car comes almost at zero. And while no excess loads. How to ride a bike. The landing calculation is the simplest; in adverse weather conditions, only two external parameters need to be known - distance to the site and direction to it. The trajectory can be built in the mind, and this simplicity is captivating. And if the pilot went over that very difficult line, after which piloting the "vertical-bike" becomes comfortable and familiar, then there are some advantages.
- Surely you talked with pilots who have been on long hikes. What did they tell?
- The pilots are hard on the ship. Unaccustomed for them closed space - for months. Plus, problems of hygienic properties, completely unexpected for those who are not in the subject. Fly in the MSC - sea rescue kit, and this is essentially rubber. The pilot dressed in MSK throughout the entire flight shift. The costume has a ventilation system connected to external sources - on the ship and on the plane. Put on - sweat, reached the pre-flight preparation room, connected it to the ventilation system there - you blew it. Colds became the norm, plus some skin irritation. Of course, these issues are solvable, but it is necessary to understand: it is not enough to create a plane and train pilots. There are no trifles in the system of operation of the ship aviation, there are a lot of nuances, and everything must be taken into account - the efficiency of the ship aviation depends on this.
- Why did the Yak-141 project stop and what cars could replace it?
- The designers had amazing ideas, offered non-standard and very promising solutions. I will not tell in detail, because I am not their copyright holder. But the progressive development of vertical themes slowed down at first, and then stopped altogether. The problem is that for the implementation of any technical idea you need an interested customer. And we need funds for research and development, to translate ideas into metal. You can’t forcibly be nice, and it’s pointless to speak in the absence of a customer about some schemes that could be implemented. And after all, not only the Navy can be a customer of machines with vertical takeoff and landing. The same "Harriers" in the set were delivered not only to the fleet, but also to land aviation. In due time, this direction, as far as I know, was supported by Defense Minister Dmitry Fedorovich Ustinov, it was precisely through his efforts that things moved. And slowed sharply soon after his death. And now it is not even known if there are competent people among those who make decisions who really understand what “vertical talk” is and what its capabilities are. After all, with the Yak-141, we were ahead of the West in this direction for ten years, and as it turned out now - even for twenty. Our main highlight is a three-section swiveling nozzle capable of operating at high temperatures. I suppose that the rumors that the Americans in the F-35B modification developed for the Marine Corps used the groundwork of our Yak-141 are based precisely on the similarity of the design of the jet-propulsion nozzle. You must admit, it is strange: having the most powerful carrier-based fleet, the USA nevertheless invested huge sums in the development of the "vertical line", while we, having no similar aircraft-carrier, have curtailed our program. I really hope that the history of domestic aircraft with a vertical and shortened takeoff on the Yak-141 has not stopped, there will be more cars of the next generation.