Dramatic Video Shows Yak-52 crashes into river at Polish airshow, killing pilot

Dramatic Video Shows Yak-52 crashes into river at Polish airshow, killing pilot

The horrific moment when a Yakovlev Yak-52 fell into a river after a stunt-gone-wrong at an airshow in the city of Płock in Poland was caught on camera.

An unidentified German aerobatic pilot who was also a “former Lufthansa pilot” according to reports, died on Saturday, June 15, during the 7th Air Picnic in Plock, Poland.

He was flying a Yak-52 single, radial engine military trainer and aerobatic propeller aircraft.

The plane was attempting to perform a tailspin aerobatic maneuver when the tragedy occurred. It seemed all was going to plan as the Yak-52 was rotating in the air during its rapid descent.

But then something went wrong, with the pilot’s attempt to lift the aircraft upcoming too late. The aircraft hit the water at high speed, instantly killing the man at the controls, a pilot described by the local media as “an experienced aviator from Germany.”

Although no official cause of the crash has been released, the aircraft appeared to enter a classic flat spin. Late in the spin the aircraft appears to enter a more nose-down flight attitude, a common procedure used by pilots to exit a flat spin. Unfortunately, the aircraft was too low to recover and impacted the ground, killing the single crew member on board.

The videos of the accident posted show bystanders very close to the impact point of the aircraft, sitting in chairs along the Vistula River where the aircraft impacted in approximately 8 meters (26-feet) of water.

The tragic accident provides at least some visual insight into the dynamics of a spin and some aspects of spin recovery, such as how much altitude can be required to execute spin recovery maneuvers.


The Yak-52 is a Soviet-era, two-seat light aircraft, designed to train military and sports pilots. It was produced between 1978 and 1988 in the USSR, Russia, and Romania. The agile plane is frequently used in aerobatic competitions.

Dramatic Video Shows Yak-52 crashes into river at Polish airshow

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One comment

  1. The Yak-52 aircraft has a speedy fighter airfoil Clark-Y, which helps to enter snap rolls and spins. It is controllable in both first (normal angle of attack) and second (beyond normal AOA) regimes.

    On the other hand, mistakes in controlling or misjudjing AOA may lead to abrupt fast bank development and even half flip rolls at high g’s. It leads to pilot’s stress and may be followed by mistakes.

    The pilot on video made several mistakes. He opened throttle before spin recovery, with stick forward (black smoke always indicates fast full throttle). Then he pused stick against rotation. This was perfect settings to enter into flip roll. He consequently made about one turn of flip roll and then went back into spin. After recovery from the spin he pulled stick back without returning pedals in neutral position, so he got settings to enter in opposite direction spin. After recovery from it he maintained high AOA.

    Actually aircraft behaved exactly as it should in the control settings.

    Let me, as a flight instructor on Yak-52, unlimited category, suggest to have extensive spin and unknown position recovery training on this aircraft with experienced aerobatic pilots. The aircraft does not forgive mistakes. But it is one of the nicest aircraft which makes every sort of maneuvers, including such a rare one as an inverted flat spin entering from positive spin without a brake.

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