After success with the glider young designer decided to build single-seat 'flying motorcycle'
with 18hp engine. But consultations with his advisor and good-wisher Vladimir Pyshnov changed Yakovlev's plans. There was
a need in two-seat trainer with much more powerful engine. 60hp 'Cirrus' was chosen. Wood-and-fabric construction was
common for light trainers, with front and upper parts of the fuselage covered with plywood.
While working as a mechanic at Khodynka airfield, Yakovlev had access to aircraft graveyard in ravine next to the flight area.
In the course of a dozen years it was filled with wrecked airframes from all over the world, and Alexandre Sergeevich fully used
his chance to study variety of construction, examine the nature of break-downs and to discover the weak points in damaged parts.
Finally the project was approved by Osoaviakhim, and Yakovlev received money collected
by Moscow Pioneers. After day's work on airfield he turned into designer, treasurer and
administrator at the same time. Among his backers at this critical time was S.V.Ilyushin.
But some ill-wishers were around too. They not just expressed their skepticism. One of students at the Academy handed in a
report about errors in Yakovlev's calculations. Yakovlev was summoned by the Osoaviakhim
executives and was examined on aircraft airworthiness. He was discouraged and almost lost trust in his project. But V.Pyshnov
checked his calculation and gave Yakovlev written certificate with his personal approval.
AIR-1 was finished on May 1, 1927
and performed its maiden flight on May 12 with Yu.I.Piontkovsky at controls. It was a complete success. All test requirements
were fulfilled within following two weeks, without serious rebuilds.
The return leg was made by Piontkovsky alone. He flew non-stop for 15h30min and covered distance
1420km, giving birth to two records in aircraft class: for distance covered and time being airborne. Designer
and test-pilot were given money rewards and diplomas. But the greatest reward was Yakovlev's acceptance by Air Force
During Fall same year AIR-1 participated in military exercises of Odessa military district, serving as communication
aircraft. It proved to be superior over other presented light aircraft (powered by 18-20hp engines). Later AIR-1
was operated by flying clubs.
Aircraft was approved for trial flight Moscow-Kharkiv-Sevastopol-Moscow. It was piloted by Yu.I.Piontkovsky,
A.S.Yakovlev participated as a passenger. They took off early on June 12,
Moscow. After landing and refueling in Kharkiv they touched down in Sevastopol in the evening of the same day.
"History of aircraft construction in the USSR" by
V.B.Shavrov, Vol.1 p.427;
'Notes of an aircraft designer' by
Virtual Aircraft Museum
Yakovlev aircraft at