MIG-21 jet that nearly incurred the wrath of the CIA sells for $23,000

Something much larger than a handgun featured in James D Julia's auction of historic firearms - alongside a shotgun once wielded by President Theodore Roosevelt - on October 5-6.

'Hidden' among the lots was an original 1972 Soviet MIG-21 (Fishbed) Supersonic Single Seat Jet Fighter Aircraft, formerly assigned to the Polish Air Force as a frontline fighter.

And the lucky winning bidder not only bagged themselves a classic piece of aviation history, but also a record-breaker with a remarkable story behind it...

The MIG-21's various aviation records include being the most-produced supersonic jet aircraft in history, the most-produced combat aircraft since the Korean war, and having the longest production run of a combat aircraft (between 1959-1985).

The vintage 1972 Soviet MIG-21 (Fishbed) Supersonic Jet Fighter

According to James D Julia's lot notes, this example caught the eye of a collector with extensive Eastern European connections following the dissolution of the USSR.

Through a Polish Air Force General, the gentleman paid to have the aircraft disassembled, crated and shipped to the United States.

Upon the aircraft's arrival, its new owner learnt that the MIG's original Soviet Attack radar system was installed in the plane and fully-functional.

Apparently, it was going to be confiscated by the CIA - and when the owner resisted he was informed that should he ever elect to activate it while airborne, he would be immediately shot down.

The owner, realising that discretion is the better part of valour, promptly relinquished the attack radar to American authorities.

Despite lacking its all-important Soviet Attack radar, the MIG was reassembled and made airworthy with the assistance of Soviet Cosmonaut Sergei Krikalev, MIG-29 pilot and defector Alexander Zuyev, and former Chief Astronauts Charles Precourt and Robert "Hoot" Gibson, among others.

The aircraft's Attack radar has been replaced with a less-threatening GPS

Eventually, the vintage jet was fully restored, and later flown by Gibson at the 1998 OshKosh Air Show.

Features on the MIG-21 include mid-mounted delta wings with small square tips, one turbojet inside the body, one small round air intake in the nose, and a single exhaust. A Garmin GPS system was installed in place of the attack radar, with further American products added for flight safety.

The aircraft appeared in James D Julia's sale ready for ground shipment - "all that is required is to unbolt the wings and place it on a standard flatbed trailer" - and with its original Polish aircraft log books, US Flight Log, maintenance manuals from the FAA and other important documentation.

Despite being out of inspection "with no guarantee of air worthiness," the aircraft eventually sold for $23,000 - roughly one thirty-seventh of the value realised by Roosevelt's gun ($862,500).



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