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Aviation History And Aircraft Photography

MiG Launch

Airplane Photo

  • Type:   Mikoyan MiG-29 Fulcrum
  • Venue:   Mankato Municipal Airport
  • Location:   Mankato, Minnesota
  • Date:  
  • Camera:   Minolta 7000i w/150-300mm Zoom
  • Film:   Fuji ASA 100 Color Print Film
  • Full Size Photo (~250kb)

MiG-29 on take-off at the airshow in Mankato, MN. The crummy weather made for the murky looking background, but also showed the willingness of the Soviets to fly a jet demo during a light rainfall. Notice how well the paint scheme blends in with the sky. The MiG is in full after-burner, as shown by the large flame coming out the rear end of the jet. Note the pattern of light and dark bands in the flame. This is called “Mach Diamonds” or “Shock Diamonds”, and they are an interference pattern that shows that the jet exhaust has both particle and wave characteristics (just like light).

The MiG-29 looks somewhat like the USAF F-15 with its twin tails and two engines. The MiG is, however, much smaller than the F-15, more like the F-16 or F-18A/B/C/D. Note the large tires. The MiG-29 is designed to operate from grass fields in the event that NATO takes out their airfields. The MiG-29 burns more fuel per mile than American jets, and the Soviets cannot afford to build as many runways as they need, so they have to be able to operate from unimproved fields. To prevent the engines from being damaged by debris, the MiG-29 has air intakes on top of the wings. This is visible in the photo. The main intakes are closed on takeoff and landing. Another feature of the MiG-29 are the wide “chines” flaring off of the nose and blending into the wings. This produces significant lift and fuel efficiency. The DOD had incorporated this into the F-16 and F-18. The SR-71 and A-12 had these chines, too, but mainly for stealth. Finally, note the long dark nose. This houses the air to air radar. The Soviets have long lagged the US in RADAR technology. The RADAR technology from the F-18 was leaked to the Soviets, and the MiG-29 took full advantage of this data.

The Soviets were offering rides in the MiG-29 while on tour in the US. They wanted $10,000 for a 30-minute hop. I had heard that they were having a hard time selling out at this price, and I didn't have $10,000, so I called and offered $3,000. They told me that they would think about it if there were no other offers. The day of the airshow, I learned that the CEO of Fina Oil and Chemical went on the ride at Mankato, and he got it for free due to Fina having paid for the jet fuel used by the Soviets on the MiG-29 tour.

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