Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros
The Aero L-39 Albatros is a high-performance jet trainer aircraft developed in Czechoslovakia to meet requirements for a “C-39” (C for cvičný – trainer) during the 1960s to replace the L-29 Delfín. It was the first of the second-generation jet trainers, and the first turbofan-powered trainer produced. The design is still produced in an evolved state as the L-159 ALCA. The Albatros – the most widely used jet trainer in the world with more than 2,800 having served with over 30 air forces around the world in light-attack missions as well as in basic and advanced jet pilot training. The L-39 (under the name Prototype X-02) first flew on 4 November 1969 and was piloted by Rudolf Duchoň, the factory’s test pilot. Serial production began in 1971.
The basic trainer is not armed but has two under wing pylons for drop tanks and practice weapons. Light-attack variants have four under wing hard points for ground attack stores; the ZA also has an under-fuselage gun pod. The L-39 is no longer in production and is replaced by the L-159.
While newer versions are now replacing older L-39s in service, thousands remain in active service as trainers, and many are finding new homes with private owners all over the world. This is particularly evident in the United States, where their $200,000-$300,000 price puts them in range of moderately wealthy pilots looking for a fast, agile personal jet. Their popularity led to a purely L-39 Jet class at the Reno Air Races, though it has since been expanded to include other, similar aircraft.
About Our Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatros:
The American Airpower Museum currently maintains 3 L-39s in its collection. The Museum flies 2 L-39Cs, and a L-39ZA the armed combat variant of the Albatros. The L-39s fly local demos, and in air shows during the Spring and Summer season. They are part of the Cold War Collection on display at the American Airpower Museum.