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Ever so happy in a Gnat
Piloting the Folland Gnat GN-113 of the late 1950s.

Location: Riihimäki, Finland
Visited: 5 August 1997

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The Wonderful World of Vehicles

by Kurt Ristniemi

Folland FO.141 Gnat
FR Mk.1
'Folland Gnat FR.1'
fighter reconnaissance version

GN-113
of the Finnish Air Force

construction number: FL-47 

 

Gnat in Finland
Facts about the Folland Gnat
Gnat in Aerobatics
Restored Gnats

If you have further information on the Gnats,
please contact me on front page
.

Page published 28 December 1997
Updated 18.08.2005

© Kurt Ristniemi, 1997 - 2005

 



Certainly not an air field
The back yard of Mr. Esko Pessi.
A MI-2 Helicopter, a Folland Gnat fighter and a Fouga Magister trainer


On Mr. Pessi's Back Yard

Near Riihimäki in Southern Finland there is a house by a side road that you cannot pass without rubbing your eyes to make sure that you are not seeing things.

But it is true: The pink helicopter and the fighter airplanes and the guns that you saw on the yard really are there. They are real.

We visited this yard 5. August 1997.

 

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"You painted these!?"
sEs showing photos of his paintings to Mr. Pessi, the owner of the Gnat

The house, the yard and all the planes and guns  belong to Mr. Esko Pessi. He is a true collector of large scale military equipment and well known among the enthusiasts all over the world. Should you ever crave for a barrel of a heavy coastal cannon, you know where to ask.

Mr. Pessi was just constructing a garden grill from one such barrel as we came. Obviously a grill to stand for centuries.

Clear the runway!!!
Ready for take off .

Now where do I put my legs then?
The Gnat cockpit is made for men
with shorter legs than mine

 


Later history of GN-113

GN-113 was bought in 2001. It was first stored at Räyskälä airfield, but it was later moved to Malmi airfield in Helsinki.

There are plans to restore it and bring it back to flying if possible. Otherwise it will be restored as a museum plane.

GN-113 is now owned by GN113 Warbird Consulting Oy

GN113 Warbird Consulting

One of the better preserved aircraft in Mr. Pessi's yard is a Folland FO.141 Gnat FR Mk.1 from the late '50s.

The Gnats imported to Finland were single seater fighters, F Mk.1 ('F.1'), two of which - GN-112 and GN-113 - were equipped for reconnaissance with 70 mm Vinten cameras ('FR.1'). Mr. Pessi's Gnat is one of these two as there are transparent windows in the nose and on both sides of the nose. Also the nose cone is flat. And there is just enough left of the insignia to reveal that the plane is the GN-113.

I ask Mr. Pessi for permission to be photgraphed in the Gnat. He makes a joke of collecting a FIM 50 admission fee (10 US$). At least I take it as a joke. He helps to secure the cockpit hood in the open position and then the fighter is all mine.

It is a funny feeling entering a jet fighter: You climb up the ladder, step inside the cockpit to stand on the pilot seat. You grab the sides of the plane and slide your legs on both sides of the control stick and under the instrument panels. It is something like entering a racer car. You see the control stick and all the meters. The pedals are all too close for me. And only faintly I can imagine what it might feel like to take the bird onto the sky.

Updates 
28. Dec. 1997: Original version
20. Oct. 2001: Minor corrections
17. Aug. 2005: Later history; more accurate model notation.

 

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