The search for the ULTIMATE KICK – this well-known saying has nowadays received its fixed place in our society. Ever-increasing amounts of people are looking for the extreme, and they are even willing to spend (a lot of) money to this end. So called adrenalin sports are well developed and they find their followers. Who could imagine some 20 years ago, that someone would jump from a skyscraper for a non-suicidal purpose? For sure this arena is still the domain of a few extreme athletes (thankfully), but this does not change the fact, that normal people would like to feel the worshipped adrenalin rush as well. A ride on a roller coaster or a bungee jump just arouses the appetite for more. The only question is: what can give you more excitement than jumping from a bridge, only safeguarded by a rubber band? The answer is relatively simple: flying a modern fighter jet! But normally this is where all the problems begin. Fighter jets, especially the state-of-the-art ones, are not accessible for Joe Public. Only a small elitist group, the fighter pilots, can claim to have experienced the feeling of being pressed into the ejection seat with multiple G's when flying a tight curve. With the fall of the Iron Curtain some pleasure flights in fighter jets were offered to wealthy people in several CIS-countries (some are still on offer up to today). This was always combined with a huge effort – in addition to the enormous cost for the flight one had to travel to the dedicated country, spending at least a few days there just to fly around with a MiG or Sukhoi for some 30 min or a bit longer. This extra effort put off many prospective spare-time fighter pilots. This is why a relatively new Swiss company, the MiGFlug & Adventure Inc. (www.migflug.com), offers these flights with fighter jets besides the previously mentioned possibility in Russia, Czech Republic, Switzerland, Spain and as a special highlight (for German customers) even in Germany. On the former East German AB at Peenemuende one can conduct aerobatic manoeuvres in an Aero L-39 Z0 ALBATROS above the beautiful scenery of the Usedom peninsula.
This particular L-39 served with the NVA - LSK/LV (Nationale Volks Armee - Luftstreitkraefte/Luftverteidigung = National People`s Army - Air Forces/Air Defense) up to 1990 at Bautzen AB (the unit was the FAG-25, which was the East German variant of an Air Training Wing) and is restored to an almost brand new condition. The whole restoration process was finished only some two years ago. At the Peenemuende AB five Aero L-39 served as target tows for the Jagdgeschwader (Fighter Wing) 9 Heinrich Rau. The Airbase was demilitarised in 1994 after the German reunification and is today privately owned. Most of the original facilities, like aircraft shelters, maintenance hangars or the tower are still existing in their original shape, which offers a distinctive backdrop for flying with the L-39. Another pro for Peenemuende is the fact that the airspace in the Northern part of the peninsula is not really busy, and therefore an almost undisturbed air traffic environment makes extreme aerobatic manoeuvres possible.
The whole flight is perfectly organised (as one expects from a Swiss company), and everything runs free and easy. The journey to the location is up to the participant (any kind of help, for instance in case of accommodation, etc., is provided if required). The meeting point is the main gate of the airfield, where a double-seat MiG-21 UM gate guard salutes befitting ones rank. After a very sincere hello with the pilot the further course of action is explained to the participant and his or her affiliates. A small cafeteria offers some coffee and some light refreshment for good health (it is highly recommended to have regular breakfast before any flight – maybe not too much, but at least something and a coffee). The anticipation as well as the strain within the participants is noticeable visible at this stage!
Pavel, our pilot, has received his wings in the Russian Federation flying besides the AERO L-39 one of the most sophisticated fighter jets, the Mikoyan Gurevich MiG-29 (NATO Code: FULCRUM). For a few years he has lived in Germany, where he is working as a flight instructor as well as a test pilot for a German company. His special character, especially his sense of humour, gives everybody the feeling that they are being dealt with by a real pro – which is important, because at this stage some people begin to feel some kind of funny grumbling in their stomach. After becoming acquainted and exchanging some small talk about the whole organisation the aircraft is pulled out of the hangar and parked on the apron. Now it becomes more serious when the trainee pilot receives his/her briefing. There one is also asked for his/her preferences. The one wants to get the full program inclusively loops, barrel rolls, split-S and other aerobatic manoeuvres, the other is perhaps a bit more careful – each to their own of course. When the maximum program is selected, up to 4 G's are reached during the flight, which means, that an untrained person might black out for a few seconds (when pulling positive G's the blood is pressed into the lower part of the body and the brain is for a very short time running low of oxygen – a blackout is the result). The L-39 is designed for +8/-4G, which is even for an experienced pilot wearing an anti-G-suit a huge physical stress. An anti-G-suit is of course not used on the flight with a passenger. After another short instruction and the pre-flight check both the participant as well as the pilot board the aircraft and the L-39 runs up its engine and off it goes. It takes the jet only a few hundred meters to get airborne. The ALBATROS is powered by a single AI-25 TL turbofan rated at 16,87 kN thrust which is good for some 460 mph.
After retracting the landing gear and reaching the minimum flight level of only 500 ft the whole program starts. Fast fly-bys followed by an immediate pull up, barrel rolls or loops are of course agreed in advance, nevertheless as the pilot is linked to the trainee via intercom during the whole flight, the latter can influence the further course of the program (especially if he/she feels an ever increasing air sickness a planned Immelmann turn can easily be changed to a long and smooth level flight). The whole duration of the program takes minimum 15 minutes; this can of course be extended due to the amount of money one is going to spend. The whole flight is recorded by a small video camera, which is installed in the cockpit. The content is presented to the participant as a special bonus on DVD. As almost the whole flight takes place in the airspace above and around the Peenemuende airfield the participants affiliates can take some pics and video footage from the whole story to have an almost complete documentation of the event.
After the aircraft has landed and the usual photos of the crew were taken in front of the aircraft, everybody moves to the cafeteria for the debriefing. There the whole adventure is explained to the attendant crowd with lots of gestures (which is common for fighter pilots after returning from their mission) in every small detail. The actual interesting point is not what is said, but the shining eyes of the Fighter pilot for one day. Such a shining one can normally only see in the eyes of kids when they stay in front of a Christmas tree. If you want to see such a facial expression on your big child, you probably don`t have to wait until Christmas, do you?
Robert Kysela / CHK6
MiGFlug und Adventure GmbH
phone: +41 (0)44 500 50 11 or +41 (0)44 500 50 1
copyright © 1997 - 2016 by Robert Kysela / CHK6 all rights reserved