The Emigration to the USA of One of the Biggest Biplanes in the World
Richard Franklin Bishop
© Copyright 2018 by Richard Franklin Bishop
Here I will record a modern aerial flight that mirrored Charles Lindberg's trip (but in reverse). It was performed by Michael Manousakis of Germany — A 21st Century Hero. It documents the courage of an Iron Man of the Airways and his Antonov AN-2 Flight from Germany to the USA in the largest biplane in the World. It is also written to keep the Reader “in the know” about what has been going on in the Aviation World, in case he hadn’t heard about it before.
Since this event was first shown on European Television in 2016, it’s not really World NEWS any longer. The only reason I’m recording it in this archive for posterity is because I never heard a word about this from the Media back then — not even American TV. Maybe they considered it as just another aerial stunt almost as spectacular as those of the famed Evil Knievel and his Son Robbie.
Well now, since Manousakis did all the Piloting himself (with no stand-ins), I would not call “man-handling” a 7,260 lb. single-engined colossus through the air over the thousands of miles separating Europe from the USA “a circus trick”. Imagine Continent-hopping in any aircraft where all the instructions or technical data for repairs are in Russian or Polish and not even available at the nearest Airport or the Internet ! I doubt that the general public in America has ever heard anything about all this. And if they did, I doubt if they would realize the difficulties that were overcome in succeeding with such an odyssey.
The lumbering aircraft he flew had once been owned by the POLISH AIR FORCE. There were 18,000 + of them built over the 54 years between 1947 and 2001; over 70% were manufactured outside of Russia in Poland:
“The Antonov An-2 is a Soviet mass-produced single-engine biplane utility/agricultural aircraft designed and manufactured by the Oleg Antonov Design Bureau beginning in 1946. Top speed: 258 km/h (161 mph), Cruise speed: 190 km/h (119 mph), Range: 845 km (528 miles), Weight: 3,300 kg (7,260 lbs.),Wingspan: 18 m (59 ft.), Engine type: Powered by the Shvetsov ASh-62, a 1,010 hp nine-cylinder radial engine, which was developed from the Wright R-1820 that powered the Boeing B-17, Flying Fortress. They are now prized by collectors of classic aircraft, making it an increasingly common sight at American airshows, sometimes selling as cheaply as $ 30,000.00 before refurbishing (sequential quotes from Wikipedia). Many were really “plushed-up ” into handsome airframes.
This trip took along: (1) a ferrying "Guide" named Tony Eyre who was brought along for a safe ride (he has been accompanying ferrying flights as “an Advisor for hire” for all of 50 years now) and: (2) a TV Cameraman for the documentation as one episode of a TV Program.
It was all part of a German Serial Television Program entitled "STEEL BUDDIES" and it is still on the air once a week broadcast by a German TV Station called D-Max. This gutsy trip in an ancient 41 year old aircraft and his other salvage adventures are also featured in the USA on U-Tube (in the German language).The aircraft type Antonov AN-2 is also featured on U-Tube many, many times. The 9-cylinder “startup” is especially dramatic; noisy and smoky.
Our modern Hero, Michael Manousakis, is a hobby pilot who also owns a giant salvage yard named MORLOCK MOTORS located in Westerwald, Germany. He successfully buys and sells old and new Military vehicles (also School Buses) - no matter what the size or condition. He imports a large percentage of the vehicles from the USA.
Our German hobby pilot had learned to fly in Europe. He rehearsed for the long one-way Germany to USA over-water flight by making an AN-2 flight from Germany to the Island of Mallorca and back. Early-on, he made a special trip to Florida to study and practice for a multi-engine rating for an eventual twin-engined aircraft return- to-Europe flight.
The Pilot used the AN-2 for several months after arriving in America by flying around and arranging the transportation of many School Buses and Military Vehicles from several points on the USA East Coast to his European Salvage Company in Germany. He then sold the AN-2; bought an Amphibious twin-engined aircraft and ferried it to Germany.
SO, LET”S HEAR IT FOR MICHAEL MANOUSAKIS !
U-tube can fill-in you in with background if you want more information about the aircraft. There are scores of Google “blurbs” about it and its unique low stall speed capabilities. For instance, in a 55 knot headwind, it can fly under complete control and drift steadily backwards (in relation to the ground) ! That’s pretty good for a 3.63 ton aircraft.
SO, LETS HEAR IT FOR THE ANTONOV AN-2 !
For pictures, call up Google Images with this LINK:
Then type: “michael manousakis antonov” into the address box and sit back and watch the hundreds of images.
As an aside, one snapshot of the emigrating Antonov AN-2 aircraft over New York City (scroll on down to the tenth row of pictures) puts one in mind of the words on the base of the Statue of Liberty:
" Give me your tired, your poor
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free
lift my lamp beside the golden door!"