Forty Years of the Foxbat – and Firefox

A news article from the BBC website entitled “The Pilot who stole a secret Soviet fighter jet” caught my attention today.  It was a reference to the defection of Lt. Viktor Belenko in his MiG-25 “Foxbat” to Japan on September 6, 1976.   It’s a little amazing to me, partly because it doesn’t seem that long ago,  and partly because somewhere in my pile of still-packed model aircraft I have a contemporary Hasegawa model of that very same MiG-25.

Belenko

Lt. Viktor Belenko’s MiG-25 “Foxbat” at Hakkodate Airport, Japan in September 1976

 

From some of the contemporary accounts and pictures that are floating around on the web it would appear that Belenko planned his defection to the West for some time, coming as he did equipped with several technical manuals and other materials relating to the MiG-25.  The only thing which seemed to catch him by surprise on his arrival at Hakkodate was the length of the runway.

Lt Viktor Belenko's MiG-25 "Foxbat" on the ground at Hakkodate Airport, Japan in September 1976

Lt Viktor Belenko’s MiG-25 “Foxbat” on the ground at Hakkodate Airport, Japan in September 1976

 

MiG -25s are museum pieces now, which in itself is amazing.  There was something about the MiG-25 which inspired me and also prompted me (just a little) to buy a hardback first edition copy of Craig Thomas’ 1977 novel Firefox, about the hi-jacking of the fictitious Mig-31 “Firefox” by the burned-out Vietnam veteran Mitchell Gant on behalf of the British Secret Service.   If you have only seen the Clint Eastwood movie, do yourself a favor and find the original novel.  It’s worth the effort.

Thomas, Craig: Firefox. London: Michael Joseph, 1977

Thomas, Craig: Firefox. London: Michael Joseph, 1977

In the days when I had a different job, and a certain web browser was in its infancy I sent out an email referencing the book and the movie and said “this email refers to neither – the latest version of Firefox the browser is now available, please update your installations as soon as possible.”  But that was a lifetime ago, too.  🙂

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