It would be difficult to find someone who is less qualified to
comment on flying the Cmelak than myself. I got to it completely by accident. I had flown almost nothing on the type, and I
learned nothing from the experience I did have. In spite of this,
or maybe because of it, I will build up the gall to write something about it. The experience from it is, for me, strong and
The Bumble Bee was, as I had long suspected, not in the cards
for me. Way back when, I was supposed to take a ride in one,
specifically in a two seat version that my friends had on loan at
the time. But, luck wasn’t on my side then, bad weather put
a strain on the budget, and the opportunity just never seemed
to come up again.
Not for several years, anyway. And this time, it wasn’t a two-seater. It was a solo bird. It wasn’t much to look at…nothing
fancy, just a workhorse. With spray booms. And it wasn’t yellow,
but red. And with Otto Smik’s kill markings on it, below the cockpit, and the No.312 Squadron unit badge. Was it even a Bumble
Bee, or was it a ‘BumbleSpit’?
I don’t recall all that much from the preparations for the flight.
The start up of the engine went about the same as when a general would show up at the base to take a MiG out for a spin. Run
it up, and I’ll take her out. So, with some assistance, the engine
was brought to life, and I took off for a few rounds between Line
A Bumble Bee flying up high was a suspicious site. Especially one
equipped with the spray booms. But my experience told me that
in order to get a true feel for the plane, some height would be
a good thing. And with a bit of luck, I wouldn’t attract too much
attention at the 500m I was flying. The plane shuttered in the
air when trying to keep it from falling. The circuits were about
three minutes in length each. It wasn’t like I was trying, but
a little voice was telling me to not fly so wide. This wasn’t
a Constellation. So, why not?
As my old instructor told me, an empty Z-37 is a completely
different aircraft from one that is loaded up. It flies well. And
it really did. The view out the cockpit for a tail dragger was
excellent. I was not used to having the nose as low as it was
INFO Eduard - April 2021
on a three point landing like this. I was not used to being able to
see over the nose so well that I ended up overcompensating and
setting down on the tailwheel first. Damn! Sorry ‘bout that!
There was no crosswind, so I couldn’t grade the aircraft on landing under such conditions, with its tendency to veer off the direction of landing. Three circuits were enough, and hop on back
home. I thought maybe that I would try it at a lower altitude, but
my intuition told me to not push my luck. But I tried it at 150m….
and nothing went awry.
After forty minutes and five take-offs, I returned the red and
yellow Bumble Bee OK-AKP with thanks. Nice airplane. I liked
it. Something completely different from what I am used to. And
perhaps my buddies who own the two seat version will give me
another opportunity to take it for a spin, too. And why not? It’s
coded OK-BFC, and I am a member of the BFC!