FIND EXCLUSIVE JOBS FROM €60,000
Swedish military interceptor can be had for $175,000 in California.
At the beginning of the jet age, Sweden sought a high-altitude air defense interceptor. Saab aviation engineers responded by building the J35 Draken, a single-seat, delta-wing fighter able to take on MiGs in supersonic dogfights.
After first entering service in 1960, the aircraft proved capable and durable, and it eventually was employed by the military in Denmark, Finland and Austria, as well as in Sweden, before being retired in the 1990s and as late as 2005.
But one now sits outside a hangar at Stockton Metropolitan Airport, gathering dust and playing host to paper wasp nests; a Cold War warrior grounded by the high price of jet fuel and its owner's financial woes.
"It's a unique bird, and it's a shame to see it sit," said Verlyn Wolfe of Wolfe Aviation, who has been trying to find a buyer for the Draken (Swedish for kite) for nearly five years.
With its innovative double-delta wing design, the aviation hot rod has a top speed of Mach 2 and can fly as high as 60,000 feet, requiring use of a pressure suit. With full afterburners, it can climb 34,450 feet per minute.
Although disarmed, it was originally outfitted with two 30mm automatic cannons and could carry Sidewinder air-to-air missiles.
The fighter was renovated in 2000 and for a time saw use in promotions and at air shows. A video of its 2003 appearance at the Reno Air Show (which can be found on Youtube) shows its aluminum skin sporting the name of a Sacramento auto dealer.
Once priced at $499,000, the Draken is listed at $175,000 and would likely go for less with a solid offer.
While Wolfe said he is negotiating with an aircraft collector for the sale of the Draken -- and he has received some interest from an air museum -- there are a couple of reasons potential buyers are put off.
One is fuel cost.
"The price of fuel has skyrocketed over the last several years," Wolfe said.
Fuel runs a minimum $5 a gallon, and the plane can gulp 450 to 525 gallons an hour at cruising speed.
Kick in the afterburners for maximum thrust and it'll burn 100 gallons a minute.
Another drawback is a lack of spare parts and tools.
The aircraft had a full inventory of such materials, including a spare engine and ground support equipment, but those were sold to pay an overdue storage bill.
And not just anyone can fly the Draken.
To qualify, a pilot would have to have 1,000 hours in a turbine aircraft, then take a specialized training course to become familiar with the plane. And, of course, supersonic flight is not allowed over the United States, except beyond 12 miles off the coast or over Edwards Air Force Base with advance notice.
"Quite frankly, the real sale of this would be to somebody who could really go through this thing and turn it into shape for air shows," Wolfe said, or perhaps to an aviation museum.
"It is a piece of history."
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Last Updated (Friday, 27 August 2010 17:52)