Owning a Yak-55M is about as easy as aircraft ownership gets. However, as with any Experimental/Exhibition/Foreign Manufactured airplane, there are a few details worth knowing.


The airplane is relatively easy to maintain. There are a few special tools (which are included with the sale) and you’ll need a set of metric wrenches, but any qualified A&P/IA should be able to maintain the airplane without much trouble. The airplane is pretty much an engine, a simple pneumatic system, a very simple electrical system, the airframe, and a basic hydraulic system (for the brakes).

Annuals have been running about $1200 per year, and I’ve had no major problems. For expertise, you or your A&P can call Vladimir Yastremski, who knows more about these airplanes than anyone in the U.S (FYI, Vladimir did my pre-buy inspection when I bought the airplane, and he installed the smoke system and replaced the wing bolts).

When looking at Yak-55’s, it’s important to know that the original Russian wing bolt holes would round out, leaving just a little bit of play. There is an easy way to check if the airplane needs attention in this area, and Vladimir can tell you the procedure. The short version is that if you push up on a wing and feel a slight “click”, you need new wing bolts. The procedure is to replace the originals with slightly oversized bolts after doing some MX on the holes themselves. This airplane should be good to go for a long time, but something to check if you’re looking at another airplane.

On the ground, the gear legs cause the tires to ride “toe in”, making them wear unevenly, from the outside in. I rotate the tires at every annual, and get about two years per set flying once a week on concrete.

The ignition system uses auto plugs, so we just replace all 18 plugs at each annual. I have had zero ignition system problems with this airplane.

Battery maintenance is probably the hardest job – it requires removal of the instrument panel to access the battery. Having said that, I’ve never had to do this. The battery’s only role is to energize the starter solenoid on start and provide power when the alternator isn’t.

The air system is simple (unlike other Russian/Chinese aircraft like the Yak-52 or CJ6A), but regular attention can stave off hard to track down problems.

In the five years I’ve owned the airplane, the only item I’ve replaced is the Russian COM radio. It was a little difficult to find a replacement, but any competent avionics shop can replace with an American radio without too much trouble. As it is, the current radio has been running strong.

Parts are available from a number of sources, and this airplane comes with quite a few spares. The big ticket items, of course, are the engine and propellor. Both are still readily available, although finding a new M-14P might take a little bit of time.

This particular airplane has had two modifications done to it by previous owners that are worth mentioning. First, the gill shutters have been removed. If you are flying in the South, like I do, this isn’t a problem, but if you fly in the winter this may be an issue for you and you’ll need to find replacement shutters. It can be done, but they may be hard to find. Again, Vladimir is the place to go for this.

Second, the oil cooler was moved from under the cowl to inside the engine compartment. I think this was done for purely aesthetic reasons. If you fly in hot climates, this can lead to higher than normal oil temps at low airspeeds. I fly in Texas during August when OAT is 100+. Under these conditions, you can’t do much acro (< 15 minutes). The solution is to go high or just keep your sessions short. During more temperate days this is not an issue at all. For me, it affects my flying maybe three days a year. Again, if this is a problem, Vladimir can move the oil cooler to it’s original position. I installed some heat sink fins on the oil filter that have made this a lot better, but if you are flying in hot climates, moving the oil cooler is the best solution.

The Russian’s built this airplane to sit outside, take abuse, and still be easy to maintain. Owned and loved by American standards (hangared and tended to), it only gets better.


The airplane is licensed Experimental/Exhibition. If you’ve never owned an Experimental/Exhibition aircraft, this can be a little disconcerting.

As a practical matter, it doesn’t change a thing. Parts are cheaper, but you still need to be a licensed mechanic to work on the airplane (although an A&P can sign off your annuals, or condition inspections as they are called in the Experimental world). Since it is a single seat airplane, there are no passenger restrictions to worry about.

From a paperwork standpoint, there is some extra documentation required. The airplane has a set of operating limitations that restrict what you can do with the airplane. The biggest restriction is no flying over populated areas. You also need to send the FSDO a program letter once per year (and carry it in the airplane), but this is pretty boilerplate and you aren’t required to get a reply – notification is all that is required. In 10 years of owning E/E airplanes, I’ve received a call from the FSDO once asking me to clarify a program letter.

When you buy the airplane, the operating limitations and airworthiness transfer. We’ll send a new program letter to your FSDO notifying them of the change in the aircraft’s home base, along with a copy of the existing airworthiness certificate and operating limitations. Most FSDO’s know the drill – nothing has to change unless you want it to, but if there are any issues they can be worked out. Again, it’s about notification, not permission.


You’ll need tailwheel time, but insurance for this airplane is relatively inexpensive. My policy includes two other airplanes, but if you break it out the Yak-55 costs about $1000 per year to insure. I have used Ladd Gardner and Tammy Orth for many years and would highly recommend them.