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Thu, Mar 21, 2019

Aerospace Discovery At The Florida Air Museum Unveils USSR MiG-21

Airplane Donated By Draken International Will Be On Display At Sun 'N Fun Next Month

One of the most popular supersonic jets in aviation history, a Russian Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-21, has a new home at the Aerospace Center for Excellence (ACE). Draken International donated the single engine jetfighter to Aerospace Discovery at Florida Air Museum, a key component of ACE.

The unveiling and ribbon cutting ceremony took place during the 6th Annual Mayor’s Breakfast held March 6th on the Sun ‘n Fun campus. The Mayor’s Breakfast was attended by over 400 members of the business community interested in this year’s updates on Sun ‘n Fun and its Aerospace Center for Excellence initiatives as well as the keynote speaker from Draken International which is headquartered on the Lakeland Linder International Airport.

Dave McQueary, who works in the Technology Department at Sun ‘n Fun, has served as the caretaker of the aircraft since it was officially donated in December 2017. In getting the aircraft ready for exhibition, McQueary noted that the project was extremely time consuming, involving several intricate steps to restore the aircraft to its original condition.

“We spent almost a year trying to find someone to remove the explosive charges in the ejection seat. Once we took care of that safety issue, we were lucky enough to have the maker of John’s 360 Coatings donate the paint,” he said. “We also were fortunate to have Fosters Aircraft Refinishing strip and paint the MiG.”

McQueary said the aircraft was originally painted in the traditional Slovakian colors of green and dark brown camo, but it was decided to restore it to its last assigned paint scheme. “It was one of the few Slovak aircraft that were repainted in the desert camo you see it in today, so we assume the aircraft was temporarily assigned to somewhere in North Africa.”

The original home of the aircraft has been traced to Silac Air Force Base in central Slovakia where it was assigned to the 4th Technical Squadron. It served on Quick Reaction Alert status the entire time it was there and was ready to takeoff within eight minutes when needed day or night.

This aircraft is one of the 10,000 MiG-21’s produced by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau in the former USSR and holds the record of being the most produced combat aircraft since the Korean War because of its simple design and technology. In its heyday during the 60’s and 70’s, the MiG-21 served in over 50 countries and some estimate it is still an active aircraft in as many as 20 countries today.

McQueary said the MiG-21 will be displayed alongside the Grumman F14 Tomcat on the Sun ‘n Fun Expo Campus, historically appropriate since these two aircraft were direct adversaries during the Cold War.

(Images provided with Sun 'n Fun news release)



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