When was the last time you strapped on your flight suit and nailed youself into the seat of a jet warbird?
Weve all witnessed their power and agility in aerobatic routines at the air show, passing by a military airfield as they shoot skyward, afterburners glowing, or while sitting in an out-of-the-way place watching the sky as they zip by overhead. And weve all thought the same thing: What if I were at the controls?
Its common to see a jet warbird or two at various airports throughout the Southwest. Many of these surplus aircraft have made their way into the private sector. A number are owned by collectors or museums, others are in the hands of private individuals who fly them regularly, and some are used strictly for aerial demonstrations.
If youve ever flown into Santa Fe (SAF), you may have noticed an unusual number of these exotic looking aircraft sitting on the ramp or shadowed behind partially opened hangar doors. They are there not for the enjoyment of one individual or for display; they are waiting for everyday pilots to experience the excitement of flying a jet warbird.
Fantasy fighters was founded in 1990 by Larry Salganek. He is a former school teacher-turned jet warbird flight instructor. Larry has been instructing pilots for over 25 years, mostly in warbirds. In fact, Larry has probably spent more hours instructing civilians in military piston and jet aircraft than anyone else in the United States. He spends more than 500 hours per year instructing everyone from thrill seeking pilots who are in for a one-time experience to jet warbird owners looking for an expert training program to get them into their own planes. Larry clearly points out that Fantasy Fighters does not give rides; the companys focus is on instruction. In fact, Larry offers a regularly scheduled two-day jet warbird ground school transition course, in which he covers everything from high speed aerodynamics to ejection to insurance requirements.
Fantasy Fighters was originally founded with a focus on piston aerobatic training. The companys first planes included a T34, a CJ6, a Yak 52, a Sai Marchetti, and a T28. The first jet arrived in 1992 in the form of an L-29. a pair of Mig 15s followed, and the focus on jets has continued. Thy now has six jets, including the L-29, two Mig 15s, a Fouga, a T-33 and an L-39.
The L-39 is a unique blend of Soviet-style simplicity and Czechoslovakian-style Western technology. This is the current Russian Trainer. Also produced as a close air support aircraft.
Power loading: 3,800 lbs of thrust
Rate of Climb, at 10K feet: 4000 ft/min
Cruise speed: 310 to 360 knots
Stall speed: 90 knots
Final approach speed: 120 knots
Best climb: 215 knots
There were 3,500 L-29 aircraft produced, and they were the standard soviet block trainer for 20 years. The L-29 is still in service in many air forces.
Power loading: 4lbs per pound of thrust
Loop entry speed: 280 knots
Rate of climb, sea level: 3000 ft/min +8/-4 G
Maximum level flight speed: 340 knots
Cruise speed: 250 to 280 knots
Mig 15's were produced from 1946 to 1955. They were manufactured in Russia, Czechoslovakia, Poland and China. More than 10,000 were produced, and some are still in service in third world air forces. At their height, there were 30 countries with the Mig 15 in their inventory.
Power loading: 1.5lbs per pound of thrust
Loop entry speed: 380 knots
Rate of climb, sea level: 7500 ft/min +8/-4 G
Maximum level speed: 580 knots
Cruise speed: 450 knots
T-33 (T-Bird/Shooting Star/Silver Star)
The most classic Jet warbird ever! The single seat version of this aircraft (the P-80) fought the single seat Mig 15 in the world's first jet to jet combat.
Power loading: 2.5lbs per pound of thrust
Loop entry speed: 350 knots
Rate of climb, sea level: 6,000 ft/min
Maximum level speed: 450 knots
Cruise speed: 350 knots
A French jet, similar in performance to the American Cessna T-37, but a bit faster and with excellent air conditioning and pressurization.
Power loading: 3.5 lbs/pound of thrust
Loop entry speed: 250 knots
Rate of Climb, sea level: 3500 ft/min
Max level flight speed: 340 knots
Cruise speed: 250 to 300 knots