Warbirds roar into Lismore

THREE of Australia's fastest big boys' toys arrived on the Northern Rivers yesterday.

Warbird Aviation owner and pilot Kim Rolph-Smith brought his beloved L-39 Albatross, Yak-52 and T-28 Trojan war jets down from Brisbane and will take people for rides in them from Lismore Airport today and tomorrow.

Mr Rolph-Smith said each plane had a specialty.

"The Yak-52 is really for a person who likes full-on aerodynamics - loop-the-loops and barrel rolls," he said.

Yak-52s were used during the Cold War as training aircrafts for Soviet fighter pilots. Mr Smith's Yak-52 is the most agile plane in his collection but not the fastest.

"(The L-39 Albatross) is quite a modern jet. It's air-conditioned, it goes 1000km per hour and it has only done about 800 hours flying, so it's fairly new," he said.

The speedy L-39 costs Mr Rolph-Smith the most to run because it burns around 800 litres of premium fuel an hour. The same model was used in the James Bond film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

The third of Mr Rolph-Smith's flying treasures is the T-28 Trojan - an American bomber used in the Vietnam War.

"It was based in Laos and was operated by the CIA," he said.

Mr Rolph-Smith said he also happened to be Australia's most experienced T-28 pilot.

"I've had two T-28s and I've been flying them for a long time. There's someone in the US with similar hours but there's not many people around who've done that much in the T-28," he said.

The flight enthusiast will pilot the Trojan this weekend while his son, Cameron, a licensed aircraft engineer who maintains the planes, will fly one of the other aircraft. The flights will go from Lismore to Evans Head and up to Byron Bay but Mr Rolph-Smith said he's happy to take people on specialty routes.

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