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In the air
In the air
Ben looking pleased

Warbrid Adventure Flights

Thursday, May 8, 2003
Vertical pulls, barrel rolls, wingovers... name your poison! If rollercoasters are too cruisy then hop on board!

Nigel Dunn, who runs Warbird Adventure Flights, has been a commercial light aircraft pilot for over 20 years. Around six years ago he started Whale Air with a Cessna aircraft and offered whale-watching and scenic flights.

He now flies a Warbird, a Nanchang CJ6As fighter plane, which is actually the Chinese version of the Russian Yak 18A.

Nigel has always had a fascination with the two-seater, aerobatic ex-Chinese air force planes with front propeller, and he couldn't pass the chance of purchasing one when it became available. Painted the official Chinese air force green, pilot and passenger are enclosed by a bubble canopy.

As it is used mainly by the Chinese as a training plane, as well as for light ground attack, it has dual controls. Its starter engine, flaps, wheel brakes and undercarriage retraction are all operated by the pumping of compressed air. The engine is a super-charged nine-cylinder radial engine which is quite small for its 285hp. Its top speed is around 450kmh and on a normal aerobatic flight, cruises at around 285kmh, up to 400kmh.

When armed for battle, it has two wing-mounted ½" machine guns and rockets under each wing. The vast majority of Chinese military pilots have been trained in a CJ6A or its predecessor, the CJ6. Once trained in those they move straight to the MiG jet fighters.

The design is from the late 1940s, but is still being manufactured, so parts are easy to obtain. There are around 500 currently in service in China and 10 are added to the fleet each year.

Since 1962, at least 500 have been manufactured in the Nanchang factory, and at least 500 of those have ended up being exported for commercial joy flight or private use. Nigel's was built in 1973 and was in the first batch to come to Australia.

Ninety percent of Nigel's customers are male and possibly 75 percent of those are there thanks to a special gift. The rest are just aeroplane enthusiasts.

Your flight goes over Goolwa, Currency Creek, Finness River, the vast Lake Alexandrina and then veers past Clayton, over Goat Island and the Tauwitchere Barrage. Aerobatics take place about 10km east of the Murray Mouth along the beaches. It is safe to use linear features along the ground as a reference point.

Nigel gives his passengers a rundown of everything which is going to happen once airborne. From talking to them he can gauge just how far into the aerobatics they are likely to want to go. He starts slowly, consulting with his passenger to see if they are happy to keep going.

Here are some of the feats which Nigel and his Warbird can do:
  • Wingover.
  • Barrel rolls.
  • Loops.
  • Aileron Rolls — starting level and rolling 360 degrees.
  • Immelan — half loop with a roll at the end.
  • Avalanche — loop with a snap roll at the top.
  • Stall turns — the wings exceed the angle of attack and stop flying.

    Derry turn — starting level, doing a 1½ roll, ending up inverted and pulling back so the plane heads vertically towards the ground.

  • Location

    Goolwa Airport, 90 minutes from Adelaide.


    Warbird Adventure Flights cost $259 per person. They operate year round.
    Please note prices are valid at time of transmission and to the best of our knowledge are inclusive of GST.

    More information

    Warbird Adventure Flights
    Goolwa Airport
    Airport Road
    Currency Creek 5214
    Ph/F: (08) 8555 4075

    Qantas: 13 13 13

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