Edited from an article by Phil Buckley
In Perth, Western Australia, an unusual warbird type is beginning its journey back into flying condition. A MiG-21U Mongul-B twin seater fighter jet recently arrived from the USA for restoration in Australia. Her new owner, Adrian Deeth, is a keen aviation enthusiast, and had been looking for a suitable warbird type to acquire for some time. His search ended with the exotic and rarely seen MiG-21. Deeth found a US-based MiG-21U project in mid 2012, but it took two years to move the aircraft to Australia.
Deeth’s Mongul rolled off the production line in Russia during 1967 under an Egyptian Air Force contract as construction number 5068. The jet helped train Egyptian pilots for the single seater variant, but even so has very little flight time with barely 400hrs reportedly in its log book. The Egyptians retired 5068 in the late 1980s, and she made her way to the USA just a few years later. It passed through various owners, but had settled in Tulsa, Oklahoma, flying on the warbird circuit by 1994. Registered as N423LZ, the MiG received a new Tumansky R-11F-300 jet engine in 1997, but only put eight more hours on the clock before her reported last flight in 1998.
Deeth is having the aircraft restored in Perth. It will involve a thorough overhaul and include new avionics with an upgraded communication system. He is also thinking of repainting the aircraft with its original 1960s desert camouflage scheme to give it a more authentic appearance.
Once the 5068 is flying again in a few years time, Deeth hopes to offer high-G aerobatic flights in her, which will include a supersonic dash. This will of course depend upon some Australian regulatory approvals to allow the aircraft to operate in the military training zone over deep water roughly 40 miles west of Rottest island, just off the coast of Perth. The distance from land will ensure that any effects from the sonic booms will not reach populated areas.
Interestingly Adrian Deeth has another MiG-21 project in Europe which he is hoping to import at a later date. We will be sure to keep our readers updated on progress with both of these exciting warbird projects as they occur.