The Antonov An-2, NATO reporting name ‘Colt’, is a Soviet single-engine bi-plane designed by Oleg Antonov and originally built by the Antonov Design Bureau. Originating from 1946, with a first flight in August the following year, it was built as a utility aircraft to undertake a number of roles from transportation, parachute dropping and agricultural work. Its slow flight capabilities make it ideal to operate from short, rough, unprepared airfields. The An-2 is the largest single-engine biplane built to date and was produced in large numbers, over 5,000, in the USSR and 13,000 at the PZL-Mielec factory in Poland.
The An-2 Club operates Hungarian registered HA-MKF which was built in 1980 by PZL-Mielec and is based at Popham airfield in Hampshire.
Over two weekends in October 2016 the An-2 Club flew her to Gloucestershire Airport to conduct a series of flights. These leisurely flights proved extremely popular on each weekend with enthusiasts, aviators and members of the public, all seeking to take advantage of the opportunity to take in the unique sights, sounds and smells of the An-2 in the Gloucestershire skies for an aerial view of the beautiful scenery around Cheltenham and Gloucester.
South West Aviation Photographers members Matt Sudol and Gary Morris were keen to take advantage of the opportunity to fly in the big Antonov aircraft over the two weekends to bring you this photographic report.
On the day of each flight, before the large WSK-PZL-Kalisz (Wytwornia Sprzetu Komunikacyjnego-PZL-Kalisz) Shvetsov ASz-62 engine can be fired up, a few pre-flight checks were needed, including a look at the engine oil level (in front of the windscreen) and a few cycles of the large propeller to ensure that any oil is circulated around the engine.
After a successful start, Pilots Steve Bohill-Smith and Bill Leary then taxied HA-MKF across to the Gloucestershire Airport terminal where eager passengers were boarded under the watchful eye of Chris Scriven, whilst the engine remained running.
Once boarding was swiftly completed and the safety information provided by Bill Leary, the flight was then ready to depart for the Gloucestershire skies. This routine continued throughout the day for each of the flights operated.
The An-2 Club will be organising further flying events in 2017 and will be returning to Gloucestershire Airport, so keep an eye on their website at http://an2club.info and social media for information and ticket booking.
South West Aviation Photographers would like to thank the An-2 Club, and in particular owner James Black, pilots Bill Leary and Steve Bohill-Smith with Chris Scriven and Bart Ward for their kind help and co-operation and for allowing photographic access to the aircraft, Gloucestershire Airport for the co-operation in arranging the flights and to Kev Slade for his help in producing this article.
© South West Aviation Photographers 2016