Friday, September 30, 2005

Owning your own Air Force

Daddy wants.

From This guy has his own Air Force.
A decade ago, only sovereign nations could afford to buy and maintain sophisticated, high-performance fighters. But Kirlin's unmarked hangars contain an air force more formidable than that of many countries. He has 30 jets in flying condition, 10 in line for maintenance, and dozens more to be delivered. His MiG-29 Fulcrums, designed in the late 1970s to go head-to-head with the hottest US planes, are the only privately owned Fulcrums in the world. Kirlin breaks into a big smile whenever he looks at them.

"Check this out," Kirlin says, leading me into a back room and opening a steel cabinet. He takes out a white cotton bag. Inside it is a pilot's helmet that connects to the plane's laser-guided tracking system. The result: A MiG-29 pilot can precisely target a missile just by looking in a certain direction. Federal regulations require all military equipment owned by civilians to be disabled, but somehow - "Can't tell you," Kirlin says - the Fulcrum's radar weapons systems are intact. The plane is no match for a US fighter's sophisticated avionics in an encounter beyond visual range. But if it can survive long enough to come within view of that fighter, the MiG-29's ability to fly at high angles of attack becomes a distinct advantage - and where the pilot's eyes aim, so does its weapon.

Cool! Read all the way through the article--I would love to hear more details of his quest to obtain a Mig-29.