Wednesday, September 7, 2016

40 years ago - an aviation anniversary straight out of spy fiction

Yesterday marked the 40th anniversary of the defection of Lt. Victor Belenko of the Soviet Union to Japan, flying the then-top-secret and greatly feared MiG-25 Foxbat.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia)

To commemorate the anniversary, the BBC has a lengthy article about what happened.  Here's an excerpt.

On 6 September 1976, an aircraft appears out of the clouds near the Japanese city of Hakodate, on the northern island of Hokkaido. It’s a twin-engined jet, but not the kind of short-haul airliner Hakodate is used to seeing. This huge, grey hulk sports the red stars of the Soviet Union. No-one in the West has ever seen one before.

The jet lands on Hakodate’s concrete-and-asphalt runway. The runway, it turns out, is not long enough. The jet ploughs through hundreds of feet of earth before it finally comes to rest at the far end of the airport.

The pilot climbs out of the plane’s cockpit and fires two warning shots from his pistol – motorists on the road next to the airport have been taking pictures of this strange sight. It is some minutes before airport officials, driving from the terminal, reach him. It is then that the 29-year-old pilot, Flight Lieutenant Viktor Ivanovich Belenko of the Soviet Air Defence Forces, announces that he wishes to defect.

It is no normal defection. Belenko has not wandered into an embassy, or jumped ship while visiting a foreign port. The plane that he has flown 400-odd miles, and which now sits stranded at the end of a provincial Japanese runway, is the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25. It is the most secretive aircraft the Soviet Union has ever built.

Until Belenko’s landing, that is.

There's much more at the link, and some interesting photographs.  Interesting reading for aviation buffs.


1 comment:

Rusty Gunner said...

I read "MiG Pilot" many years ago, and it was fascinating to compare the reality to the things my Naval aviator father talked about in the 60s. Other Navy friends filled in some gaps regarding other aspects of Soviet readiness that made some of the great Cold War fears seem a little silly.

Now they have some terrific new hardware, but I wonder how much else has really changed?