New Delhi. 28 May 2020. Soviet era’s last MiG-17PF jet is for sale and it is the only airworthy one-of-its-kind aircraft. Jon Blanchette, the owner is a former General Motors engineer and U.S. Navy officer. He rescued the single-engine, swept-wing jet fighter from a scrapyard in Poland in 1993.
Blanchette turned the retired legend by painstaking restoration into a star show stopper at airshows. It looks and flies as it did six decades ago. The MiG-17 got the reporting name of Fresco from NATO and is a high-subsonic fighter aircraft produced in the USSR from 1952 and operated by numerous air forces in many variants. The MiG-17 was license-built in China as the Shenyang J-5 and Poland as the PZL–Mielec Lim-6.
MiG-17s first saw combat in 1958 in the Second Taiwan Strait Crisis and later proved to be an effective threat against more modern supersonic fighters of the United States in the Vietnam War. It was also briefly known as the Type 38 by U.S. Air Force designation prior to the development of NATO codes. An important part of the Soviet Air Force in the cold war era, the PF variant of the MiG-17 were equipped with a search and a tracking radar. It was the first Soviet fighter capable of operating at night and during inclement weather. It remained in service until replaced by the MiG 21-13, in the early 1960’s. MiG-17PF also became the first jet fighter flown by the North Vietnamese Air Force and was a respected opponent to the U.S. F-4 Phantom II during the Vietnam War.
Blanchette’s particular aircraft (1D-0620) was produced in December 1960 and served in the Polish Air Force until 1966. After being decommissioned, it served as a training platform for Polish aircraft mechanics until 1993. It took Blanchette 15 years to fully restore the jet fighter to its original condition. Today, the restored MiG is capable of performing a full aerobatic routine, including inverted flight and tight 8-G turns.
Since it gained its second life in the United States, this fully operational historic jet has been turning heads at air shows throughout the country, capturing the attention of aviation enthusiasts all over the world. “It has been the biggest passion project of my life,” Blanchette says. “I am incredibly proud of what I was able to accomplish with this aircraft, and I hope that it will bring the same amount of joy and fulfillment to its next owner.”