Flying the Mig-29
On Monday the 25th of May 2015 I had enough luck to fly the Mig-29 for 45 minutes, one of the most powerful fighter jets ever built. Here are my notes about the experience. At the time of the flight, I had logged 201 hours of flight time, amongst them 3 hours of aerobatics training. One hour was done in a citabria, and two hours in an albatros L-39.
First of all, there is roughly only one legal way to do this as of this day, which is to go fly on the Russian city of Nizhny Novogorod. This industrial city situated 4 hours away from Moscow is the home of one of the Mikoyan factory, established in 1932 (aka Sokol Plant). It is still active as of today. This factory is home to an airfield and some airspace used for flight testing purposes. United States civilian flight operations forbid flights at speed greater or equal than Mach 1.0, which would make it impossible to enjoy the airplane at its fullest capacity.
Allow at least two months before the flight, for multiple reasons:
I recommend arriving two days prior the flight. I arrived the day before which was a little bit short for preparations and such. If you are coming from a country with an important time difference you might find it difficult to adjust in only one day. One other option to make sure you are not going to be jet lagged is to visit Russia for a couple of days before the flight and to take this as an opportunity to adjust for the time difference.
Technicalities of the Mig-29
Shedule of the day
Some pictures of before and after the flight
We pretty much flew what we agreed on during the preflight briefing. The temperature was high so we could not go as high as we would have wanted (the higher the temperature, the thiner the air, making it hard to trade speed for altitude). We agreed to proceed in three main phases: first go as high as possible to observe the earth curvature, then descend at FL230 for some maneuvers, then finally descend for some low altitude maneuvers close to the airbase.
The approach here is that the flight instructor shows the maneuvers, and I was in charge of reproducing them (some maneuvers were exclusively performed by the flight instructor).
Communication between pilots is done by pressing a button, which is pretty interesting, especially when the pilots asks you if you are ok while you can barely move your arm because it is 7x heavier than usual.
Now for some of the flight details:
Whole flight in 3 minutes
High Altitude Flight
Inverted Flight/Low pass
Which kind of training is necessary?
No specific training is necessary to fly such a airplane. Flying in this machine can be as smooth as a regular commercial flight. You might find it boring though. There are two main kind of training that can benefit you: