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The first step was to do decide what my mission was. I thought it was pretty obvious, I wanted to do aerobatics. There's lots of planes out there I could do aerobatics in, but I decided I had to have a military aircraft. It just felt right.

So began the research. I talked with a few people about it. I wanted to go American if I could and I wanted to make sure there were a number of aircraft and parts available. The reports of spar problems on the T-34 scared me away. I'm sure it's a great airplane, but I just didn't want to take it on. I loved the look of a T-28 and T-6. I found the total cost of ownership of the T-28 was beyond my current means, so I started to focus on the T-6. I talked to a LOT of people about the T-6 and got a lot of advice. The advice boiled down to:

  • Great fun, if you've got deep pockets
  • Can be a handful for a low time pilot (I was)
  • Get lots of Complex/High Performance time
  • Get lots of tailwheel time
  • Buy an RV-8

Then someone mentioned the Nanchang CJ-6. Said it looked like a Yak and the guys who flew them were adamant about them. So, I checked them out on Trade-A-Plane and Controller. They were 1/2 the cost of a T-6! This deserved a more thorough web search. Here's a few of the sites I found:

Of course, no list is complete without the Red Star Pilots Association