Ever had a James Bond moment where you dream of stealing a high-speed jet fighter? Well, Lieutenant Viktor Belenko actually did it.
Viktor Belenko was a Soviet Union pilot flying for the ‘513th Fighter Regiment’. He became famous on September 6th, 1976 when he decided to defect to the west. Viktor was out on a routine training exercise in his MIG-25, he made sure the tanks were full and then proceeded to take off from the Soviet-bloc for the last time. Once in formation, Viktor chose his moment and then broke away and headed for ‘the west’.
The MIG 25, although capable of speeds of up to MACH 3.2, has only a 1200mile range. This meant that Viktor wouldn’t be able to make it to his chosen destination…the USA. When he began running low on fuel, Viktor landed at the only airfield he could find, Hakodate, Japan. He overshot the runway before proceeding to climb out of the cockpit, firing his handgun twice in the air and explaining he wanted to defect.
The CIA swamped the Japanese airport, taking to pieces and examining the first MIG 25 they had ever laid hands on.
Viktor was granted asylum by US President Gerald Ford before working for the US government as a consultant for several years.
Viktor Belenko’s Autobiography – “MiG Pilot, The Final Escape of Lieutenant Belenko”