March 8, 2012
By Jim Moore
Will Whiteside recently added four new world records to his collection, piloting a Russian-built Yak-3. Photo courtesy Lyle Jansma - AeroCapture Images.
Veteran racing pilot and world record holder Will Whiteside, flying a Russian Yakovlev 3U dubbed SteadFast, has added four new records to his collection, pending expected certification and ratification by national and international organizations.
Whiteside set a world speed record in October, piloting SteadFast at an average speed of 416 mph over Runway 8/26 at Wendover Airport in Utah. The National Aeronautic Association will honor Whiteside March 13, along with other new record-setters, for setting the U.S. speed record in a piston aircraft weighing between 3,858 and 6,414 pounds.
On Feb. 29, Whiteside took aim at a time-to-climb record set in 1978, when Russell H. Hancock flew a Piper Navajo Panther to 3,000 meters (about 10,000 feet) in 3 minutes, 33 seconds. The Yak-3 made the same climb in 2 minutes, 03 seconds, and Whiteside went on to break the record for a 20,000-foot climb at the same weight. Whiteside’s team then added weight, and shattered records for climbs to the same altitudes again.
The ultimate world record for a climb to 3,000 meters stands at 91.6 seconds, set in 1972 by Lyle Shelton in a modified Grumman F8F Bearcat. Whiteside was coy about whether that record may also be in danger.
“That’s the granddaddy of all of them, that and the three-kilometer speed record he set in 1989,” Whiteside said.
Whiteside is a veteran of the Reno Air Races, and named his Yak-3 for Reno/Stead Field, where the races are held—and the speed at which it travels. SteadFast was built in Russia in 2005 (the last piston fighter produced there). The time-to-climb records were set on a series of three flights out of Charles M. Schulz— Sonoma County Airport in Santa Rosa, Calif.
“We didn’t really have optimum conditions,” Whiteside said. “We know we have a lot left on the table.”
A larger propeller will be mounted for upcoming flights. Whiteside said his record-setting ways are driven by a simple motive: “I love to compete,” Whiteside said. “That’s pretty much it.”
Aircraft Power and Fuel
The next stop is Putrajaya, Malaysia, on May 17 and 18 for the 2014 Red Bill Air Race World Championship, following an “electrifying” contest in Rovinj, Croatia.
The movement to exempt thousands of general aviation pilots from the third class medical certification process is gaining momentum in Congress and the aviation community.
The National Aeronautic Association has awarded the Collier Trophy for “the first unmanned, autonomous air system operating from an aircraft carrier.”
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