The Air Force in it’s ultimate wisdom sent me to Las Vegas for my 21st birthday.
While crewing an F-4G Wild Weasel at George AFB, I got to go to my first Red Flag at Nellis.
We went to “war” against Communist Nevada for 30 days. Every day coming to work we drove past a building with a sign marking it as “Alien Technology Section”. that got my attention. Needless to say I was thrilled when I was selected to attend a tour of “The Alien Technology Section”. All of had a Top Secret clearance for working on Weasels but we had to submit our line badges and I.D. cards for one more check.
During the tour we got to crawl all over a Fan Song radar, a SA- surface to air launcher (with SA-2 still attached), a T-72 tank, an Atoll missile and a MiG21 fighter. We were shown how to do a Thruflight inspection on the MiG. For you civilians a Thruflight inspection is performed between flights to make sure everything is still okay.
The MiG was an eye opener. Non-flush rivets. A wooden board for the pilot to sit on and other techno geek things to show how the Soviets could manufacture a shit hot fighter jet on the cheap. The MiG21 kicked our collective asses in Vietnam and that led to the development of the F-14, F-15 and F-16.
Little did I know at the time, the “tour” was also a job interview. Subsequently, I was put on a “list” that eventually led me to being assigned to the Stealth Fighter. That was cool too but I really wanted to crew MiGs at an undisclosed location.
Nowadays you can see the particular MiG21 on display in the Heritage Park at Nellis AFB, Nevada. It currently sports the colors of the PVO-Strany (Soviet Air defense Division). But when i saw it in 1979 it was sporting the livery of the Hungarian Air Force.