Mystery Airplane: December 2013
Mikoyan-Guryevich (RAC-MiG) MiG-29 "Fulcrum A"
The design team of Artyom Mikoyan and Mikhail Guryevich was formed in December 1939 to produce fighters for the Red Air Force. The wartime MiG-3 was fast, but a handful to fly. Post war, the team collaborated on the first Soviet jet, the MiG-9, and followed this with the Korean War MiG-15 and the Viet Nam War MiG-17 and MiG-21. Guryevich retired in 1964 and Mikoyan died in 1970.
Designed to replace the MiG-21, MiG-23 and Su-17 with the Soviet Air Forces' Frontal Aviation, the prototype MiG-29 was first flown on 6 October 1977, by Alexandr Fedotov. Initial deliveries began in 1983, with the 234th Fighter Air Regiment at Kubinka being the first to convert. Western intelligence detected the MiG-29 by satellite in November 1977, but the first appearance in the West of the "Fulcrum" did not occur until July 1986 when six MiG-29s visited Finland. Known for its incredible maneuverability and ability to operate at extreme angles of attack, the "Fulcrum" paid a visit to the Abbottsford International Air Show in August 1989. Two MiG-29s appeared with the giant Antonov An-225. I was there. The flight demo was amazing. I photographed "Blue 506" at Mankato on 7 September 1991. Again, two MiG-29s were touring supported by Ilyushin Il-76. This time, however, they were offering 30 minute rides for a reported $10,000! Needless to say, I watched from the ground.
Over 1,100 MiG-29s have been produced, including a carrier capable model, serving with over 25 nations. In 1997, the United States purchased 21 "Fulcrums" from Moldavia, to keep them from being acquired by "rogue" states. Five appear on the US Civil Aircraft Registry.
This month's winner is George Jevnager of Lakeville. Other correct responses came from Joe Connell, John Rosenberg and Ron Pogatchnik. Thanks to all who have participated this year or stopped to hangar fly at the announcer's stand. Happy Holidays and blue skies to all of you.