Car, eh, Fighter Jet For Sale: Paul Allen’s 1989 MiG-29 Fulcrum
Yeah, you can really buy your own fighter jet... with enough money, of courseby Kirby, on
Russian jets don’t go on sale often, so when one does go on sale, we all have to stand and pay attention. A 1989 MiG-29 Fulcrum, considered as one of the finest jets ever made in the history of aviation, is looking for a new owner. It’s unclear how much it costs, but it probably doesn’t even matter. If you want to be the buyer who ends up purchasing this MiG-29 Fulcrum, you’re going to have to offer the motherlode for it. But before you make that kind of splurge, you need to learn more about this particular MiG-29 Fulcrum, specifically the part about its owner, the late Paul Allen. Microsoft’s co-founder was widely regarded for having one of the most extensive collections of aircraft anywhere in the world. He owns warbirds, floatplanes, helicopters, and, of course, private jets. Without question, though, the MiG-29 Fulcrum is the crown jewel of his collection, and since his untimely death last year after a bout with cancer, Allen’s massive collection is slowly being sold off. So, if you’re deliberating on buying a Bugatti Chiron or a Koenigsegg Agera RS, hold that impulse for a second and consider this MiG-29 Fulcrum instead. You probably won’t get another chance like this ever again.
I’ve seen one-off exotic cars go on sale. I’ve seen iconic classic cars go on sale. I’ve even seen absurd vehicles go on sale. But a fighter jet? This is new territory for me. Mind you, this isn’t your typical fighter jet, either, as if there are typical ones, to begin with. Nope. This is a 1989 MiG-29 Fulcrum that’s believed to be the purest example of a fighter jet of its specific kind that’s owned by a private collector. This is as pristine an example of a MiG-29 Fulcrum as you’re going to see anywhere in the world. Heck, it just might be the finest one regardless of who owns it. Suffice to say, a fighter jet like this only goes on sale once in a generation, maybe even multiple generations.
Of course, a jet likes this doesn’t have the condition that it does without a lot of work being put into it. This particular bit was built in 1989, or right around the end of the Cold War. It was used primarily for training, though it did see service with the Ukrainian Air Force during the dissolution of the Soviet Union. At some point over the next 16 years, Ukraine refurbished and demilitarised the jet, before putting it up for sale sometime in 2005. That’s when John Sessions, a renowned collector of fighter jets, came into the picture.
As the man who runs the Historic Flight Foundation, in Everett, Washington, Sessions is no stranger to planes like the MiG-29.
So when the opportunity came to purchase and import the legendary fighter jet into the U.S., Sessions jumped at the it. It didn’t come easy, though, and certain parts of the jet ended up scattered around the world, including the fuselage, which was impounded in Hong Kong and sat in a warehouse for an extended period before Sessions was able to track it down and bring it to the U.S.
That’s just one part of it, too. Sessions and his team also had to reassemble and restore the jet to a point where they could do some test flying with it. Mind you, restoring a jet isn’t the same as restoring a car. You mess up in a car and you can still take comfort knowing that you’re not 45,000 feet in the air when something goes wrong. The margin for error when it comes to restoring a jet like the MiG-29 is razor-thin. Fortunately, John Sessions isn’t your typical man when it comes to restoring machines like this. After years of painstaking work and around $6 million in costs, Sessions — and his team — was able to restore the MiG-29 to such an extent that, in 2011, Paul Allen bought the fighter jet for an undisclosed amount. Anytime the word “undisclosed” is mentioned, the saying, “if you need to ask, you don’t need to know” applies. And by God, it certainly applies in this case.
To his credit, Allen didn’t tuck the MiG-29 away in some unknown location after purchasing it. The fighter jet not only became the centerpiece of Allen’s Flying Heritage Museum, but it also partook in a lot of flight exhibitions throughout the years, whether it was your typical zoom climbs or flybys, Allen’s MiG-29 was a regular fixture in the aerospace above Everett, Washington.
Sadly, Allen’s death last November meant that, at some point, a lot of his collections would have to be liquidated, including what many refer to as the “Vulcan Air Force,” the sartorial nickname given to his collection of planes, jets, and anything that goes airborne. The MiG-29 is part of this collection, and with little practical use for it — it also comes with significant upkeep — it was only a matter of time before the jet ended up for sale. Turns out, that time has come.
The MENTE Group, an aviation consulting firm and aircraft broker based in Dallas, Texas is currently marketing the MiG-29 for sale.
According to its listing, the jet’s airframe only has 570 hours of total flight time.
The jet’s Klimov RD-33 afterburning turbofan engines only have 60 hours of use in them since Sessions overhauled the whole plane. The jet has also spent just 60 hours in the air and its K2 K36DM ejection seats are still classified as "hot." The jet also comes with a number of important aviation equipment, including an ADS-B transponder and a Garmin 530 GPS.
|Powerplant||2 x Klimov/Sarkisov RD-33 turbo fans|
|Wingspan||36 ft 5 in|
|Height||15 ft 6.25 in|
|Length||56 ft 10 in|
|Weight (empty)||24,030 pounds|
|Max speed||Mach 2.3 / 1,520 mph (2,446 km/h)|
|Max operation overload||9 g|
From a collection point of view, this MiG-29 checks all the boxes you’d want from a fourth-generation Russian jet fighter. But before you decide to make this otherworldly splurge, you need to understand what you’re getting yourself into. Buying this plane is one thing; maintaining it is an entirely different thing. Even if you know how to fly it, you need to prepare yourself for the reality that comes with flying a jet that can literally burn through a thousand gallons of fuel in one flight. The cost that comes with doing it once may be negligible, but to do it over and over again while also throwing in all the maintenance costs that come with owning this plane and you might find yourself burning through your bank account faster than the MiG-29 can burn through its fuel.
On the surface, it’s an incredible fighter jet, maybe even the best one that’s out in the world today. But there’s a price that needs to be paid if you decide to buy this MiG-29. I’m not just talking about the cost of actually buying it, which should easily reach eight-figures. I’m talking about the costs that come with owning it. They don’t talk about that when they’re selling you something. Might as well know what you’re getting into before you step into it.
Source: Mente Group