A retired Russian Mig-23 fighter jet flying in an air display in Michigan crashed Sunday afternoon, horrifying thousands of spectators, including children. The two crew ejected before the plane crashed just after 4 p.m.
When it impacted the ground, it exploded into a blazing fireball, narrowly missing an apartment building in Van Buren Township and damaging vehicles but harming no one. Firefighters rushed to extinguish the flames.
The plane was participating in the Yankee Air Museum’s Thunder over Michigan air display at Willow Run Airport near Ypsilanti, which is located between Ann Arbour and Detroit.
The plane, a former Soviet now Russian MiG-23, was performing aerial manoeuvres. It was unclear what issue caused the two aboard to eject and the plane to crash. The Federal Aviation Administration is looking into it.
“The pilot and backseat passenger successfully ejected from the aircraft prior to the crash,” Wayne County Airport Authority spokesperson Randy Wimbley said. “While it did not appear that they had sustained any significant injuries, first responders transported the pair to a nearby hospital as a precaution.”
The pilot, identified in the programme as Dan Filer, and the backseat passenger can be seen ejecting as their parachutes deploy and ease them back to the ground. According to certain media reports, the two were in stable condition after being rescued.
According to Wimbley, the plane crashed into the parking lot of the Waverly on the Lake apartment complex, striking unoccupied automobiles, but “no one at the apartment complex nor the air show was injured.”
The collision on Sunday follows two fatalities last month during an air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. A helicopter and a gyrocopter crashed in midair, killing two and injuring two. Two more died earlier in the day when a single-engine plane crashed into adjacent Lake Winnebago.
Witnesses, including those who were not at the air show but were close enough to see it, submitted a video of the accident to social media on Sunday. They reported hearing a loud boom and then seeing plumes of dark smoke rise south of the airport.
Sunday was the final day of the two-day show, which was commemorating its 25th anniversary.
Matthew Gerick, who was there at the exhibition, saw the two people evacuate and the plane crash to the ground.
“Like, did we just watch that happen?” he said after the plane crashed, according to the Detroit Free Press, which is part of the USA TODAY Network. “I was sitting on Beck Road, watching the plane fly out towards (Interstate) 94 when it started to get lower and lower.” My wife and I then noticed the black smoke and drove down to see the crash on 94, which had fallen right next to the apartment block.”
The MiG-23 is a Soviet-designed fighter aircraft that was developed during the Cold War era by the Mikoyan-Gurevich Design Bureau, which is commonly referred to as MiG. The MiG-23 is a variable-sweep wing aircraft, meaning that its wings can be swept back to achieve higher speeds or forward for improved maneuverability at lower speeds.
Here are some key features and information about the MiG-23:
- Development and Introduction: The MiG-23 was developed in the late 1960s as a successor to the MiG-21. It was intended to be a multipurpose fighter capable of both intercepting enemy aircraft and engaging ground targets.
- Variable-Sweep Wing: The variable-sweep wing design allows the aircraft to adapt its wing configuration based on its intended flight regime. Swept-back wings are more suitable for high-speed flight, while forward-swept wings provide better maneuverability at lower speeds.
- Role and Variants: The MiG-23 was used by various Soviet Bloc countries and was exported to several other nations. It served as an interceptor, ground-attack aircraft, and reconnaissance platform. The MiG-23 had multiple variants, including the MiG-23MF, MiG-23ML, MiG-23MS, MiG-23BN, and others, each with specific improvements and modifications.
- Avionics and Weapons: The MiG-23 was equipped with radar systems and weapons systems suitable for its multirole capabilities. It could carry air-to-air missiles, air-to-ground missiles, bombs, and rockets.
- Service History: The MiG-23 saw service in various conflicts, including the Iran-Iraq War, the Soviet-Afghan War, and the conflicts in the Middle East. It was also operated by several countries in Eastern Europe, Asia, and Africa.
- Limitations: The MiG-23 had some limitations in terms of its avionics and overall performance compared to contemporary Western aircraft. Its maintenance requirements could also be demanding.
- Successor: The MiG-23 was eventually succeeded by the more advanced MiG-29, which offered improved capabilities in terms of avionics, maneuverability, and weapon systems.
- Legacy: Despite its limitations, the MiG-23 played a significant role in the history of military aviation and contributed to the development of subsequent generations of Soviet and Russian fighter aircraft.