Yakovlevs (GB)

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The Yakovlevs Aerobatic Display Team have a wealth of air show experience behind them, having conducted more than 2,000 displays in front of a global audience of more than two billion spectators over an 18-year period.

Flying rare Yakovlev (Yak) 50 single-seat and Super Yak 52 two-seat aircraft, the team pilots are some of the most experienced and respected display pilots in the world.

 World

Jez Hopkinson (Owner & Team Leader)
With over 20 years display flying experience behind him as both display pilot and display pilot evaluator, the lead pilot and team owner is Jez Hopkinson.

Jez first started flying at the age of 17, quickly gaining his PPL at Barton Aerodrome, near Manchester in the UK. A life committed to
aviation, Jez has spent time as a PPL instructor and examiner, as well as an aerobatic instructor and examiner, before catching the ‘Yak bug’ in the mid-1990s when these distinctive warbird aircraft first started appearing in Western Europe. Purchasing his first Yak in 1994, Jez quickly saw the attraction of a Yak aerobatic display team and formed the Yakovlevs in 1998. He has led the team since its inception and has completed in excess of 2,000 displays across 12 countries and arguably has more Yak flying hours and experience than any other pilot flying today.

Under Jez’s leadership the team has displayed across the world, thrilling crowds at both large public air shows and private events. The team has been honoured to display in front of Royalty, Prime Ministers and A-list celebrities.

From its roots as a four-ship, Jez continues to grow the team and brings a six-ship to the inaugural Formation Aerobatic Championships, citing plans to grow the team to a nine-ship in the near future.

Marking his contribution to aviation, Jez was invited to become a Member of the Royal Aeronautical Society in 2010, before being awarded a Fellowship with the Society in 2014. He is also a lifetime member and current council member of the General Aviation Safety Council of the UK, and continues to train and evaluate the next generation of aerobatic display pilots.

Hours flown: 10,000+
Civilian qualifications: ATPL/IR, FI, FE, FIC, DA, DAE
Position – Yak 1
Grp Cpt Peter Hackett MBE (Yak 2)
Peter ‘Willy’ Hackett is a veteran combat, display and test pilot who is currently the UK’s national deputy in the F-35 Joint Programme Office - the most expensive military weapons system procurement programme in history.

Willy has been displaying with the team since its inception in 1998 and can fly in any formation position in the team. Willy started flying gliders when he was 11 years old and joined the Royal Air Force aged 18.

He has flown nearly 200 types of aircraft from modern combat aircraft to World War I and II fighter aircraft. He still enjoys soaring gliders in the Appalachian mountains of the USA, as well as diving and skiing with his family.

Hours flown: 10,000+
Civilian qualifications: ATPL, FI & DA
Position – Yak 2
Sqn Ldr Dave Stobie (Yak 3)
Dave Stobie started flying gliders at the age of 15 and undertook his first solo on a T21 at 16. The following year he gained his PPL before joining the RAF at the age of 19. After gaining his wings on the Hawk he was posted to the ‘sleepy hollow’ (as he describes it) of Linton-on-Ouse as an instructor on the Jet Provost. Progressing on to front line deployment he flew the mighty F4 Phantom FGR2 during the end of the cold war with 92(East India) Sqn at RAF Wildenrath in Germany. Dave returned to instructing after the closure of Wildenrath at Chivenor as a Tactical Weapons instructor; here he also displayed the Hawk for the '95 season. This was good preparation for his next tour on the Red Arrows, he says. On the Reds Dave was in the syncro pair for his second and third year, and was fortunate enough to go on tour to Asia and Australia, where the team displayed to 1.3 million people at Sydney Harbour. After the Reds, and with no F4 to go back to, Dave was posted to the Harrier where he spent four years both on the front line and as an instructor on the OCU.

In 2003 Dave was selected to attend the test pilots’ course with the prestigious Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) at Boscombe Down, and on completion moved to the Fast Jet Test Squadron as a Harrier and Jaguar Project Pilot. After two years on the programme he was posted on an exchange to Eglin AFB in Florida to fly the F-16 and here he was involved with all manner of weapons integration testing onto all models of the F-16. Since returning to the UK in 2009 Dave has been an instructor at ETPS where he flies the Hawk, Alpha Jet and DA-42.

Dave has over 5000 flying hours and has a CPL, is an FI(A) and teaches aerobatics at the local flying club. He has previously competed in UK national aerobatic championships in his Christen Eagle. Dave also has a keen interest in photography, classic cars and cycling.

Hours flown: 5,000+
Civilian qualifications: SEP/MEP/IR & DA
Position – Yak 3
Phil Ansell (Yak 4)
A current easyJet training captain, Phil has in excess of 16 years Yak display flying experience, having been lead pilot for former Yak display team The Aerostars over ten seasons.

Phil learned to fly at the age of 16 at Brize Norton whilst completing his school studies. On graduation, Phil travelled to Florida to build flying hours and gain a twin rating, and ended up helping to run a friend’s flying school in Miami for a year. Returning to the UK, Phil gained his flight instructor rating and taught for a short period before gaining his first airline pilot position in 1989 with Air UK. He remained with Air UK for 10 years, four spent as Captain on Fokker 100 aircraft.

After 10 years with Air UK, Phil joined Go Airlines, becoming a training Captain on the Boeing 737. His current position is training Captain with easyJet on its Airbus fleet.

Outside of the airline industry, Phil started flying a Tiger Moth in 1994. He then purchased a Bucker Jungmann and soon after his beloved Yak 50, which he has now owned for 22 years. Phil is currently teaching his son to fly and when he’s not working for easyJet or flying his Yak 50, he also flies business jets.

Hour flown: 10,000+
Civilian qualifications: ATPL/IR & DA
Position – Yak 4
Dave Boardman (Yak 6)
Dave started flying in 1994, completing his PPL at Western Air at Thruxton Airfield in Wiltshire. Switching from the Piper PA28 basic trainer to the T-67M Slingsby Firefly, Dave’s love of aerobatics was soon ignited. He moved onto Yak flying around 15 years ago, first in the two-seat Yak 52 before purchasing a Yak 50 in 2004.

Dave then spent 11 seasons flying for the Aerostars as solo pilot, managing the team in its entirety for eight years. Used to fulfilling multiple position roles, he will be flying the ‘box’ position at the Formation Aerobatics Championships.

Hours flown: 5,000+
Civilian qualifications: SEP & DA
Position – Yak 6
Marc Vanhove (Yak 5)
Marc is the latest addition to the team line up. He caught the flying bug at an early age, starting his training aged just 15, before undertaking his first solo soon after his 16th birthday in a Robin HR200.

Marc joined the French Air Force in 2005 and became a pilot on the Alpha Jet before progressing to become an aerobatics and formation instructor on the Grob 120-A and TB-30 Epsilon. After seven years in the French Air Force, Marc entered the civilian market, gaining his Air Transport Pilot Licence as well as a civilian instructor rating and taking up a teaching position with Roger Janin Flying Club in Paris. Leaving France, Marc then joined Flight Training London at Elstree Aerodrome.

Joining the team early in 2016, Marc has quickly demonstrated his credentials and has been busy spending his inaugural year with the team learning the various formation positions and is now fully qualified for the 2017 season.

Hours flown: 2,000+
Civilian qualifications: ATPL/IR, FI & DA
Position – Yak reserve