September 28, 2009

The Real Deal..

I must be honest, I had a brush with a "troll" the other day and it has turned out to be a very delightful experience.

No, not that I bested him in some imaginary verbal ju-jitsu match or dispatched him howling in pain with a fusillade of witty ripostes. But rather, much like that classic scene in one of those old Civil War movies where the Union soldier and the Reb strike a momentary peace to share tobacco, 'tack, and coffee, we found a few things we mutually liked and could discuss quite away from the heat of the political smirmishes around us. I regretted from the second or third round of our commentary calling him a "troll"; I rescind that unkind remark.

In any event, The Reaper - his sobriquet - called attention to the fact that he was on the flight line at Elmendorf AFB in Alaska when a Mig-29 landed for a scheduled refueling. I guess it was about the time the Soviet Union was floundering and on the brink of collapse, if it had not already suffered that fate. In any event, Reaper (a) must have been a brother member of the USAF (or a contract worker there) and (b) was witness to somehting that is not seen every day: the most advanced of your enemy's aircraft landing at one of your strategic outposts.

I mean, our Buffs or B-2s have not been dropping out of the sky into Tehran International from Whiteman or Diego Garcia, have they?

Anyway, it brought to mind a book I read about a very famous (and brave) young Voyska PVO (you know, Войска ПВО) pilot -- Lieutenant Viktor Belenko -- who defected with his Mig-25 to Japan back in the late 70s, looking for a better life and the reward that the government was offering to such people. Of course, they're heroes in our book, but the USSR had other ideas.

I stumbled upon a great book about this event and recommend it to you if you would like to really understand what life was like in the Soviet Air Defense Force back durig the Cold War. Back then, when I was in the Air Force, we did not have a lot of money to spray around on the niceties (O-clubs, recreational areas, or other such luxuries) but Lieutenant Belenko and his regiment had it far worse. They served long tours in very desolate stretches of their country. I mean, Minot or Grand forks were raging metropolises compared to the bases he was assigned to in Siberia.

Here is an excerpt from the Wikipedia on Belenko:
Viktor Ivanovich Belenko (Виктор Иванович Беленко) (born February 15, 1947) is an American aerospace engineer and lecturer of Russian origin. Belenko was a pilot with the 513th Fighter Regiment, 11th Air Army, Soviet Air Defence Forces based in Chuguyevka, Primorsky Krai. His name became known worldwide on September 6, 1976, when he successfully defected to the West, flying his Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-25 "Foxbat" jet fighter to Hakodate, Japan. This was the first time that Western experts were able to get a close look at the aircraft, and it revealed many secrets and surprises.

Belenko was granted asylum by then U.S. President Gerald Ford, and a trust fund was set up for him, granting him a very comfortable living in later years. The U.S. interrogated and debriefed him for five months after his defection, and employed him as a consultant for several years thereafter.

The MiG was disassembled, examined, and returned to the USSR in thirty crates. Belenko had brought with him the pilot's manual for the MiG-25 "Foxbat", expecting to assist American pilots in evaluating and testing the aircraft. However, the Japanese government only allowed the U.S. to examine the plane and do ground tests of the radar and engines.
Head over there and read the entire story, it's fascinating. Also, I highly recommend the book.

And, as a matter of courtesy and profound curiosity, I will invite the Reaper to comment on his experience up in Elmendorf for your benefit. But you all have to promise to be on your best manners and show him how nice conservatives can truly be.


  1. Sorry NBO, I have been remiss in responding to this post. It's been around 20 or 21 years and not a lot to say.

    I did watch "Enemy at the Gates" today and thought that was extremely interesting. True story apparently. I am guessing you have see it. I would have way more to discuss there, than the Emendorf refueling.

    I was also at Galena AFB, and Eielson AFB, all preparing for the eminent evil Soviet commie invasion :-)

  2. That's O.K. If you would prefer, a discussion on Zaytsev - and other snipers - would be of interest. The tremendous stamina and skills required of them astounds me.

    If you desire, let me know ( and I'll set it up.

    By the way, I assume that your presence at Galena and Eielson meant you were in the USAF. If so, that you for your service to our country.

  3. That was a decent movie. I liked it and would like to discuss certain aspects, like Stalin.

    Yes, I was in the USAF for 10 years. Were you in the USAF? How long did you live in the USSR?

    To me, this way is more interesting as in fast blog responses and open forums.

    Tack a Rat is generally very fast and never does not post my comments. A few cons fail to post comments for ??? Ironic as they claim to love freedom so much.

    Your responses to my posts are not getting through via my Google blogspot email account. Not sure why. So may take me a little while to respond.

  4. I was commissioned out of UCLA in 1969 and was in the USAF for 8 years. I left the reserves to pursue a career in software development (a move I now regret because I liked the USAF more than I knew).

    I would be patient; they might not realize that there is a constructive dialogue to be had if one goes beyond politics.

    There is much more to talk about than the bitter pettiness that is spun by politicians solely to divide us and keep themselves in office -- both Repblicans and Democrats.

    Please try to contact me at and let's see what transpires. I respect our differences in opinion and I am sure others will as well.

  5. ..oh, and I never lived in Russia. I did have a number of Russian friends, did drink vodka, and read a sh!tpot of Tom Clancy, especially The Sum of All Fears.