East Texas pilot restores antique Russian fighter jet

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Published: Jul. 25, 2022 at 11:17 AM CDT|Updated: Jul. 25, 2022 at 5:44 PM CDT
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TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - If you have the money, or the credit, you can buy nearly anything, even a Russian MIG fighter jet. KLTV talked with a pilot who did just that, and it’s housed at the East Texas Regional Airport in Gregg County.

United Pilot Dan Filer flew an A-6 Intruder during his stint in the Navy.

“(I had) 200 carrier landings, mostly at night. Forty-seven missions in the first Gulf War,” Filer said.

He said he has missed flying a fighter.

“United doesn’t like me to fly upside down for any reason,” Filer said.

He bought an ultra-light, but said that just wasn’t the same.

“A few years later I found an L-39 Albatross, which is very similar to the Navy A-4 which I flew during training. And I had that for 17 years now and I still have that behind me,” Filer said.

Filer said to in order to own a U.S. fighter jet it has to be purchased from a foreign country. However, that sort of regulation doesn’t exist for foreign fighter jets.

“The MIGS you could actually buy from the assembly line. But not right now because there’s a little conflict going on in Russia I guess,” Filer said.

He started looking at the used MIG market and found one.

“About seven years ago and it took a while to get it up and flying and certified,” Filer said.

Bringing it back to life has been a labor of love.

“It hasn’t been easy, but we have been successful. We have one flying example of a MIG-23. Actually, the only privately owned MIG-23 in the world,” Filer said.

Filer’s Unknown Aircraft Company is working on changing that with a few more rebuilds.

“We’re at a slow pace right now because it’s me and my master mechanic who was in the Bulgarian Air Force and Bulgarian Navy,” Filer said.

And he has managed to stay ahead of issues with getting parts shipped in. He has ten MIG-23 trainers.

“We kept two complete ones for spares. And we have in a hanger this size, full of spare parts; new, that I haven’t even inventoried yet because it’s just so much,” Filer said.

Filer is getting close to an after-burner test on another MIG. He likes the two-seaters.

“I don’t want to die alone so I always got to have someone in the back seat with me,” Filer said.

And if you liked that ride, well, it can be yours for only $1.4 million.

Filer only flies the MIG a few times a year since a 1,100-gallon tank only gets about an hour of fight time. He does offer rides for only $4,000. He said the History Channel did a shoot with him last week for a show airing on Veteran’s Day. He used to have 18 MIGs but has donated seven of them to flight museums across the country. One went to the Historic Aviation Museum at Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.

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