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MIG-29 Flight: The most incredible adventure: Moscow, Russia to the edge of outer space.
Flying supersonic in the MIG 29, the top of the Russian Fighter jet series!

MIGS in Moscow, MIG-29 jets going supersonic. Migs going fast.Mmig-29 in outers space.
 Mig 29 Russia Russian space voyage are not free. Charter a MIG supersonic jet trip. These are Incredible Adventures.
Adrenaline rush, thrill, speed ultimate burn time super fast ride Top Gun school. Best trip Moscow fighter
ever, try if if you have the balls.

My Most Incredible Adventure: the Ultimate Flying Experience

by Capt. William F. Span USN (Ret.)


click on photo above to enlarge

See the A-4 Skyhawks Bill Span flew in Viet Nam click here
To learn more about the fascinating life of Bill Span click
here

mig-29
photo credits to Incredible Adventures, Inc.
The MIG 29 in flight

click here to see more details on the MIG 29
click here to see more photos of the MIG-29

This story became the biggest news article ever written in the Virginian-Pilot newspaper on one individual.

On June 19, 2000 Bill Span and this story was the lead-in to an article in the Washington Post

Bill Span skiing at Vail in the spring on 2004


While in Moscow I stayed at the "Intourist" Hotel, a beautiful hotel close
to the Kremlin, Red Square and Lenin's Tomb. I was to take my flight physical,
pre-flight briefings, ejection seat checkouts and flight gear check out at the once
"top secret" Russian Gromov test facility at Zukvsky Air base 30 KM south of Moscow.

The first day of my arrival was a day of rest, after a 16-hour flight to Moscow
through Frankfort, Germany. While adjusting to the 8 hour time difference,
my English speaking Russian tourist guide, "Marina" showed me the sights
of Moscow. This included Red Square, Kremlin, Cathedrals, and Museums.

While we were touring the Kremlin, we got picked up by the KGB for taking pictures
of me holding a "Long & Foster" FOR SALE sign in front of Yeltsin's office and the Kremlin.

Marina did a masterful job of getting us released after we were escorted
out by the three KGB from the Kremlin.

russian-aviation



Former Combat Pilot: Bill Span after the flight of his life!  Flying a Russian MIG-29 in Moscow


On the day of the flight the weather was absolutely perfect, a sunny day with high cirrus clouds and temp in the 70's. Prior to checking in, Galina (a Russian escort) and Kelly (an American escort) drove me around Zukovsky Airbase where we saw the Joint Venture US/Russian version of the Super Sonic Passenger Concord (TU-144), various Russian Combat jets and a few test jets like the SUKOI 31 and 32.

We then went to the Gromov Flight Research Institute for my flight physical, given to me by a Russian woman Flight Surgeon. I was fitted for my "G suit", flight helmet and oxygen mask. There is a difference in how the Russians wear their "g suits" and I compromised and split the difference. "Tanya" who assisted me with
my flight gear was very persuasive.

I then met with Alexander Gamaev called "Sasha". He is their Chief Test pilot and was to fly with me.


photo credits to Incredible Adventures, Inc.
The Instructor "Sasha"  = >  aka: Alexander Gamaev
bio on Sasha


YOU can go supersonic in the MIG-29 in Moscow like I did!

Email me:
wfspan@cox.net to book your flight today

All it takes is a little money and it's worth every penny !

 


He conducted the pre-flight briefings. It is the procedure for all
foreign pilots to fly the MIG 29 from the back seat. I related
all my Navy experience to him and because of that he made
an exception and I was allowed to fly the MIG 29 from the front seat.

There are official controls only operated from the front seat and
it could be dangerous if a pilot did not understand the operation
of those controls. "Sasha" who tests the Russian experimental
aircraft, recently received Russia's highest award, Hero of Russia,
and received a commemorative watch from President Yeltsin.

He was still on a Russian "High" and that was good for me since
I believed it continued throughout our flight. "Sasha" is 36 years old
and is the son of a famous Russian test pilot. Sasha has flown a
total of 3,600 flight hours and has flown over 42 types of Russian
aircraft.

He conducts flight operations all over the world and demonstrates
the famous Russian "Cobra" and "Tailside" maneuvers.

After the briefings we drove out to the parked MIG 29.

It looked so beautiful glistening in the Russian sunshine but also grossly
threatening as if to suddenly burst out at the sky. I climbed into the front
cockpit where Sasha explained the flight and engine instruments.

Strangely enough the cockpit instrumentation was not too different than
the American cockpit. The altimeter was in meters instead of feet, the
air speed in kilometers per hour and the main flight instrument (VGI) reversed.

In the front cockpit, I had control of the ejection seat. Sasha said,
"Bill, if I give the word 'EJECT, EJECT, EJECT' that is not a subject
for discussion, I go first then you." I agreed completely and without reservation.

After about 20 minutes of cockpit orientation he climbed into the back seat
and we started the engines. First the left and then the right. We completed
the necessary instrument and flight control checks, received the clearance
from the control tower and then taxied for take off. After our afterburners
were selected and engine checks were made we started our take off roll.

The thrust was so great it reminded me of a catapult shot from an aircraft carrier.

We were airborne in six seconds and 1500 feet.

"Sasha" immediately pulled a 6G loop and then bottomed out over the runway
at 150 feet, heading down the Moscow River at 600km/h. I took controls as
verified and made several turns. I did a few Aileron rolls left and right to get
the feel of the airplane.

I was surprised the MIG 29 was very responsive and easy to fly and control.
While speeding along at an altitude of only 150 along the Moscow River Sasha
pointed out a Russian Church, a small Russian village and a chemical factory.
Since we were speeding along like a runaway space capsule, I just nodded
my head and gave a polite "DA, PRE KRASNA" (yes, very beautiful).

Russian phrases came easily to me since I am of Czech descent and my
grandparents spoke Czech to me (similar to Russian) while I was young.
The Russian Cyrillic alphabet however is much more difficult to understand.

After that Sasha took control, selected the after burners, pointed the MIG
straight up and climbed to 53,000 feet, pulling an immeasurable amount
of G's. In addition to the extreme pressure from my flight suit,  I had to force
grunt to keep from blacking out. I clocked the time at 48 seconds, upon leveling
off he accelerated and went supersonic to 1.4 MACH.

He asked me prior to the flight if I wanted to go faster or higher, and I decided
that this was high and fast enough so we could save fuel and spend more time
on exotic maneuvers. He then said, "Bill I will do the following maneuvers, then
you will do them!" It sounded like a Russian order but he had no idea how anxious
I was to do them.

I replied in my perfect Russian "Da, pre krasna"  =  > translation:

"Yes, it's beautiful"

 


photo credits to Incredible Adventures, Inc.

View of a Russian MIG-29 from the cockpit of a MIG-25
 


You can fly supersonic in the MIG-29 in Moscow like I did!

Email me:
wfspan@cox.net to learn more

All it takes is money ! But it's worth every penny !

 

 

We then rolled over and did a "Split S" to a lower altitude into a "7.5 G loop",
followed by an "Emmelman", a "climbing turn", then the famous "Cobra"
maneuver where the MIG flies at the same altitude but in a vertical position.
He then recovered and flew the plane straight up, pulled back, both engines
reached "0" air speed where upon we slid back on our tail in a vertical position.

We then "brought-in" both engines, first the left, then the right.

That was the "tail slide".

Sasha had done these maneuvers so fast and brilliantly, that I did not
catch all the G's and air speeds. So when I went to do them I had to rely
on G force and feel. Sasha then said, "Bill, the airplane is yours, you
will do them". I then started with the loop and remembered from my
flying days to keep the wings level and the G's constant.

Since the VGI operates opposite to ours it made the loop a little difficult
at first. At the top of the loop I rolled my head back as we passed through
the horizon and low and behold my wings were level and I completed a
good loop. Sasha said, " Good, good Bill". The Emmelman came as
easy although Sasha said "a little more G Bill".

I thought I had enough as my G suit exerted tremendous pressure
on my legs and stomach. The "G" suit kept me from "blacking out".

These two maneuvers are standard but not so in a MIG 29, they are
done with great speed, power and high "G's".

The next two maneuvers were simply awesome. The "Tailslide" was done
by pulling "G" to a vertical position pulling the throttles back to idle while
the air speed dropped to "O" with the MIG pointing straight up. Upon
reaching "0" air speed the MIG slid back to earth tail first. I kicked hard
rudder and fell through a nose-down recovery as we brought the engines
back in, first left then right.

It felt so awesome that I repeated it again. The "COBRA" came next,
as I picked up speed and horsed back on the stick bringing the MIG
again to a nose-up vertical position, selected proper power while our momentum propelled us forward in a vertical position.

The sensation of flying that was incredible for an aviator not used to such
an exotic maneuver. I then released back pressure and while pulling negative
"G’s" recovered to level flight. There again I was so excited I did another one,
this time with more precision. Sasha performs this maneuver at low altitudes
at air shows.

I would need a lot more practice before I would do the "COBRA" that low.

photo credits to Incredible Adventures, Inc.
A MIG-29 can go straight up in the air = > to about 60,000 feet and it only takes a minute to get there


After doing each of the maneuvers twice, Sasha told me to take up a heading towards ZUKOVSKY air base and make an ILSA instrument approach to a low pass. That
was the easiest part of the flight since the MIG 29 is so stable and the controls very
responsive. At 100 feet over the runway I noticed eight parachutists descending on the airfield.

I was surprised after a discussion in Russian between "Sasha" and the control tower that
we continued. Sasha then said, "Bill, give me control and I will put on an air show for you".

He then made a hard pull up to the right then a quick hard turn back to the runway followed by a series of quick Aileron rolls, a quick reversal and rolled over to inverted flight down the runaway at 100 feet. It was quite a sensation to look at the runway while flying upside down for that long a time. He then throttled back pitched up to a downward turn and said, "Now Bill you take control and we make the landing."

He left me in close to the runway so I turned a tight approach at 300 KM down to a near perfect landing. I could not believe how easy it was to land a MIG 29. We touched down at 230 KM and had a short roll out but did not deploy the drag chute.

After turn-off I taxied back to the flight line.

The most difficult part of the flight was to taxi. The MIG 29 has a settable nose-wheel,
you must push a button to engage it and then steer with the rudder pedals.

Upon getting out of the cockpit I shouted in Russian, "YA RAHT! YA RAHT! (I'm happy! I'm happy!) I just finished beating the sky to death with the brute force of a MIG 29.

What an ending to a perfect day!

Sasha shook my hand and said, "Bill you are a true professional, all of your maneuvers were perfect. You did the "COBRA" and the "Tailslide" and very few pilots have done that." I thanked Sasha and told him he was the best pilot that I've ever known. We then went to lunch at the Gromov Flight Research Institute.

We toasted to "Peace, Health and Happiness"

MIG-controls.jpg (25614 bytes)
photo credits to Incredible Adventures, Inc.
Capt. Span knew the controls because they are identical to U.S. military aircraft


I truly felt a bond developing between Sasha and I during the long conversations that followed. We talked about U.S. and Russian aircraft, tactics and experiences. He was quite interested in my Vietnam Combat experience and asked several questions about the Russian SAM's and aircraft during that war. He related his test pilot experiences and the planes he flew including the U.S. Navy's F--18. I presented Sasha wit ha U.S. Navy flight suit, an Air Force flight jacket, a bottle of "Military" vodka, a personal computer organizer, and a "Top Gun '97" baseball cap which he wore for the rest of the day. I was presented with a model of the MIG 29, a signed certificate of the flight profile, and a beautiful Russian Watch with a picture of the MIG 29 on the face and an inscription on the outer watch ring in Russian that read "Defender of the Native-land".

After lunch Sasha and I embraced each other and bid farewell respecting our newly found friendship. I detected a glint in Sasha's eyes. I held back tears in mine as I said:

"Another place another time we might have fought each other", I continued, I would have hated to have fought you," Sasha said, "and I you."

Sasha and Bill Span after the flight

click here to see more photos of the MIG-29

email Bill Span: wfspan@cox.net
 

This adventure became the biggest article ever written in the Virginian Pilot on one individual.

Bill-with-hole-A-4-2jpg.jpg (8728 bytes)
click on photo above to enlarge
Bill Span, wearing hat, inspecting damage to an A-4 Skyhawk while in Viet Nam


click on photo above to enlarge
Fellow squadron buddies have made a funny and fictitious book cover of Bill's combat adventures in Viet Nam



A-4 ready for take off in the Tonkin Gulf during the Viet Nam War

See the A-4 Skyhawks Bill Span flew in Viet Nam click here
Learn more about the fascinating life of Bill Span click
here


YOU can go supersonic in the MIG-29 in Moscow like I did!

Email me:
wfspan@cox.net  to book your flight today

All it takes is money ! But it's worth every penny !

MIG-29 Flight: The most incredible adventure: Moscow, Russia to the very edge of outer space.
Flying supersonic in the MIG 29, the top of the Russian Fighter jet series!

MIGS in Moscow, MIG-29 jets going supersonic. Migs going fast.Mmig-29 in outers space.
 Mig 29 Russia Russian space voyage are not free. Charter a MIG supersonic jet trip. These are Incredible Adventures.
Adrenaline rush, thrill, speed ultimate burn time super fast ride Top Gun school. Best trip Moscow fighter
ever, try if if you have the balls.

 

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