My youth dream

Once a time in a MIG-29 in the sky

My youth dream

Once a time in a MIG-29 in the sky

by Thomas Stein (D) September 2007

Article Header I have fulfilled my childhood dream. Book a flight with the MIG-29. And here I want to document the experience, which will accompany me for the rest of my life. It was the 26th of September 2007, when I was met at 10.00 clock in my hotel in Nizhny Novgorod, our interpreter. He led us to the Sokol airbase and on the way to the base he told some interesting things about Nizhny Novgorod.

Of course, I was awake early and very excited. Naturally. It was the day with an incredible project. Once at the airbase, I was greeted by a friendly crowd of people. They told me something about the local work and how many MIG aeroplanes are built there every year. Then we went upstairs to the first floor. There I should meet my pilot.

It was Andrei, who was stationed in Germany and he also told me once that his daughter was born in Dresden. We understood each other immediately, and he asked how I would like to fly with the MIG-29. I explained my wishes (which he has actually flown all! And even more) and then he showed me a map to the flying area.

Article ImageThomas during the suit fitting

Then we went to the doctor. I presented my medical papers from my doctor in Germany. After the medical check including blood pressure measurement, we went to the dress-room. How exciting. "The first time wearing an open-face helmet." I thought. I love motorcycles at all, but only with a helmet, what looks entirely indifferent to a jet pilot helmet. The people who helped me with my special equipment what I should wear during my flight had had a perfect sense of proportion. Pants, jacket, G-force trousers helmet fit immediately. The oxygen mask had to be exchanged for a smaller one. Then the exercise to release and put on the oxygen mask followed on, gloves came at last.

It has worked fine. My preparations for the flight were completed, and then the adventure was finally happening. Down to the vehicle, my pilot Andrei sat down beside me. Cross through the streets of the airbase and then on the runway area. I saw the MIG-29 from afar. My heartbeat went up. We stopped, and I got out. With the flight suit and helmet in hand. There 'she' was now. I was faced with a "bad" MIG-29 ". The MIG-29 is a design beauty. Her powerful expression came down underscoring me and desired me to touch her. I had to touch it. "Gigantic", I thought. My pilot Andrei told me that together we will now check the machine. He showed me everything and explained why this is important. That was very interesting to look into the air tubes with the control flaps. Then I should enter. "Now it gets serious!" I thought. So, up the ladder and then hupps, how does that work? To the MIG-29 course was ready, the ground crew who told me the exact entry. So just get onto the seat cushion, then the feet on either side of the stick, the seat cushion back out and then sit in the seat. Great feeling. Somehow everything fits. Instruments were staring at me. But now came the seat belts. An F-1 driver cannot be fastened better. I was lashed securely attached. And I mean "fixed". A technician was always asking if everything is ok. I could only move my legs, arms and head. Oh yes, even breathe. My body was not a piece to move. And later I found out why!

Article ImageOn the way to the MIG-29 with Sokol test pilot Andrew Pechenkin

Andrei painstakingly explained to me the tools and the G-Force meter. In 9-G was the end. Last but not least I was told that I should not move the red loops between my legs. This would engage the ejection seat process! "Only in an emergency situation!" Andrei reminds me. "Everything ok?" was the question and I answered "Yes". Then I was put on the helmet and test my oxygen supply. I was connected with the onboard computer of the MIG-29 and was therefore "ready" after I had put on my gloves. Andrei then took himself to me in the cockpit of his place. He said I should watch out because it now closed the cockpit, the pulpit fell and snapped into place. Andrei then started the engines using external energy supply. It vibrated. They were not loud, but noticeably powerful. I watched the instruments. Speed, oil pressure, flashing ads that sprang from red to green. Just great. I listened to the radio and ground staff spoke with Andrei.

Then the release of ground staff and the salute to unsubscribe. I held my hand to my helmet and said goodbye. There was a little shake, and the MIG-29 rolled slowly. When taxiing to the runway, I looked to my right, my companion, the ground crew and my wife, who watched the adventure. It went around to the left of the runway and then I was clearly impressed that I actually sat in one of the best fighters in the world. It was not a game, not a dream and not a movie. I was really in the MIG-29, and my best adventure began. We turned right onto the runway. My heart was racing. By pressing a button, I could talk directly with Andrei. Then I heard the conversation, which led to the tower. It vibrated, and Andrei drove both engines to test up and down. He asked if I "was ready". I said on-board radio-only "Yes". I did not get out more.

Article ImageThomas during the cockpit briefing with Andrew

My heart was racing like a Formula 1 driver. It started to vibrate. It was loud but not excessive (the helmet also worked as sound insulation). The cockpit is bent downward. I looked to the side and thought, "Nah let's see what comes next." Andrei un-released at this moment the brakes, and I flew with my head back and stuck in my seat I was like 'Wooh, what a speed! I drive an R1 Yamaha, and I love the acceleration speed of this bike, but the acceleration of the MIG-29 made me speechless. After about 4-5 seconds we lifted off easily. It cracked under my feet. "Oh yes, the landing gear", I thought. And suddenly rose up abruptly, the nose to the sky and we sped up sharply like a rocket.

I looked right out of the cockpit and saw my wife next to the runway. She quickly became smaller. I have always admired the aerospace exhibitions when a jet after takeoff shot directly into the sky. Now I made it myself. After a few seconds, then the "Immelmann". The MIG-29 roll tightly over the head in the horizontal and 180 degrees, and we were at 6,000 feet. This was making me totally nuts. "I just stood still on earth. The holy madness ", I thought. Andrei then asks me if everything was okay and he asked me if we want to fly supersonic. I pushed the button on-board radio and said, "Oh yes, great." The altimeter climbed steadily, not pressure since we put up at a lesser angle. (Normal passenger planes flying in 30,000 ft) at an altitude of 34,000 arrived, said Andrey, I should observe the Machmeter. Already I could feel the mighty acceleration MIG-29 from more than 750 km / h. Very impressive. 0.8 ... 0.9 ... 1.1 ... Mach 1 ... Mach Mach 1.2. The numbers took off like the MIG-29. It did not take long, and we reached 1600 km/h Andrei said: "it's enough".

He slowed the MIG-29 in a curve, and I also noticed it on my body, which was pushed forward. Then I saw our own contrail when we flew backside. The flying height is reduced, and arrived in the subsonic range, Andrei told me that we would now start with a few manoeuvres and he would always end up asking me how I was feeling. I could say at any time if it were too exhausting. I said, "understood." Then Andrei showed me why the MIG-29 of the best fighters in the world. The curves with 3-G there were the jokes, how should I tell yet. The MIG-29 has a magnificent panoramic view. I could always see everything very carefully all around me. For the rear view mirrors, there were 3. Andrei falls the MIG-29 to the left side. I saw on the left under me the ground apparently. It was cloudless and sunny. Then began a lot of sharp curves.

Article ImageThomas happy after the flight with Andrew Pechenkin

I looked at the G-force meter. 3, which goes so well. But I knew it well, as my legs were pressed together to the hip more and more. Andrei kept asking if everything was ok. I told him "yes" or "super". He was then taken literally. The manoeuvres were faster in the variety. Roles. The world turns. Fly in the supine position. Crazy. I saw in the pulpit and looked up but the earth. "Twisted World", I thought. Then the "Zero-G Flight." The MIG-29 dived and took out the swing. Now I noticed the extremely intense pressure on my body. The G-gauge rose to "7". An immense force was on my body. I got my right arm very hard up as if he weighed 30 kg. The G-Force trousers pressed my legs together so that my blood was not pushed into the legs. So I was not nearby the "g-loc".

It came with 7-G from the interception steeply upward like a rocket. I looked in the rearview mirrors, the earth and the blue sky in front of me. The MIG-29 shot like a rocket to the top. It was slow until it hung in the air for a few seconds. It popped. In the rearview mirror, I saw Andrei had extended the landing flaps. A feeling of weightlessness came over me, yes it was actually a short time. Then it was wrong. The MIG-29 fell back down and turned it forward over the nose toward Earth. In this position, we raced against the earth like a stone and got faster and faster. I saw the world come closer. Andrei started the MIG-29 in a curve from the horizontal, and we raced on. On my body again loaded G-forces. Roles, right, left, up, down. "My God, this plane is necessary," I thought, while the computer receives the G-forces using the G-Force pants worked. You could say that the MIG-29 continued with overriding the laws of Newton. I asked Andrei on-board radio if I fly the MiG-29 by myself. "Yes, sure, it's your control, Thomas" was the reply. So I ran to the stick. A slight movement to the left. "Wooh," she responded immediately. We flew down slightly. I pulled the control stick in the left turn light at me, and we immediately flew higher. "Is that cool," I thought. "I fly a MIG-29". I swerved to the right. The curve was close. All I did with the stick was of the MIG-29 implemented immediately. Delays and inaccuracies was a foreign word. I was fascinated and said, "Ok, it's your control".

I saw the Oka flow into the Volga. Andrei had the time to show me the beauty of an evil fighter. He said we are now 32 minutes in the air. And I enjoyed every minute of it. "We will now fly to the airport." I said "Ok" and the MIG-29 from tilted towards the airbase. Then began a really great idea. We made two loops on the airbase. The G-gauge climbed to "5". Then again, the ZERO-G flight. The MIG-29 standing vertically in the air. Flaps out, reverse tilt down, while on the nose. The earth was damn fast approaching. Intercept and approach to a full tight loop. Then the low-level flight. Race with 600 km / h at a 30m height above the airbase. A madness. Everything sped past me. I saw the group of my companions and my wife left the runway. For a minute away. Then upward in a full loop. Now I could see the air base, and I noticed in another loop, as the chassis flaps out. Due to the excellent overview, I saw precisely the approach. Andrei put the MIG-29 soft on the runway. Then suddenly the strong deceleration. "Oh yes, the parachute," I realised. If only I had forgotten smooth. I was forced into the straps. The MIG-29 took a long time to slow down to cruising speed. The parachute was dropped, and we rolled to our waiting ground crew. I enjoyed the trip there and thought, what an adventure. This flight included absolutely everything had to offer MIG-29. I was glad to have such an experienced test pilot such as Andrei had to have. He had shown me a lot of things what someone could do with the MIG-29. I had, as Mr Bergweiler from Space Affairs told me, "get the full package." The 40-minute flight was exhausting, but I was overjoyed. Then Andrei parked the MIG-29 at our place where we were coming from. The cockpit moved up, and all were staring at me. And I had a really broad grin of satisfaction on my face!

Article ImageThomas receives his flight certifiace from Andrew Pechenkin

My joy was always seen immediately. Vasily, the organiser on the Russian side, told me later that he saw my happy eyes in the cockpit and knew immediately: Hit! I must have fallen. It was true. I was unbuckled and got out of the MIG-29. On the ground again I noticed my soft knees. Andrei took me in his arms and said, I really have "kept up very well." I hugged him and thanked him for this great flight. I thanked him very happy at all. Then it went into the car, and I drove back to the base building with Andrej. This breathtaking adventure I will never forget in my life. It was all so perfectly organised. There was no objection. Everything was great, and my expectations were far exceeded. I thank Mr Bergweiler of Space Affairs for the excellent preparation, Vasily and Sofia (interpreter) for great week-long service in Russia and Andrei for the spectacular flight manoeuvres with the MIG-29 "Fulcrum".

Text © Copyright Thomas Stein


Author Image

Thomas Stein from Berlin
MiG-29 High Aerobatic Flight

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