Today’s aviation photo features the awesome power of the Czech-made L-39 Albatros, as flown by the Black Diamond Jet Team!
The Black Diamond Jet Team were formerly known as the Heavy Metal Jet Team. Since the first time I saw them they’ve added two MiG-17 fighters to their arsenal of L-39’s.
Given a choice to fly either one for fun, it seems like the MiG would be the better choice. The MiG-17 has a lot more power available and climbs like a bat out of hell at almost 13,000 feet per minute. This leaves the L-39 in the dust as its best climb is about 4,000 feet per minute. Furthermore, the MiG has an afterburner and can scream along at just over 600 knots; the L-39 prefers a more sedate 400 or so.
On the other hand, the L-39 is accessible and (relatively) affordable. L-39’s are available used at under $300,000, which for a fighter jet is pretty inexpensive. They also have a reputation for being well-built, sturdy airplanes that don’t require a lot of fuss to operate. If I was looking to jet around in style I’d probably pick the L-39. Any yahoo can show up in a rented Citation; a real man (or woman) shows up in a fighter jet. it might make your $100 hamburger into a $1000 hamburger, but the fun you would have would be well worth the extra cost.
Here’s hoping that the Black Diamonds have a long and successful airshow career as the first and best civilian jet demo team in America! Go show them some love. They’ll be at Sun n Fun ’13, and if they come to an airshow near you go see ’em. You won’t regret it.