Stratosphere Flights marketed as Edge of Space-flights have been available in Russia after the Russian Financial crisis. Also, Thunder City offered Edge of Space Flights in Cape Town, South Africa. In Russia MiG-25 flights reached up to 25km or 82,000ft. This was the highest altitude tourists could achieve, apart from the Space Adventures trips to the international Space Staion (ISS). Thunder City used English Electric Lightning supersonic aircraft to reach an altitude of 50,000ft.
Definition Edge of Space
The boundary between the Athmosphere and outer Space is known as the Kármán line. The Kármán line lies at 62 miles or 100km, which is much higher than the 25km or so the most powerful Edge of Space-jet fighters achieve during their stratosphere flight. The expression “Edge of Space” commonly used for balloon and aircraft includes a much lower altitude. Some use it for flights at altitudes reaching the Stratosphere (10km – 50km), but flying substantially higher than commercial airliners who usually fly at 10-12km to optimize their fuel burn. Thunder City used the Expression Edge of Space already for 50,000ft (15.25km) flights, that is not substantially higher than the altitudes reached by airliners. The Russian MiG supersonic fighters reached at least double the altitude.
Fastest Aircraft reached 25km with tourists
The MiG-25 Foxbat, the fastest fighter aircraft has a top speed of Mach 2,82 or 3200 km/h or 1,920 mph respectively. At high altitude the Mikoyan MiG-25 Foxbat reaches Mach 3.2 or 3600 km/h, but this top speed damages the engine. The strangely looking MiG-25 two seater was used for passenger Edge of Space flights on Zhukovsky airbase or Ramenskoye airbase (also Ramenskoe and Ramensky) until June 2006. Zhukovsky Airbase hosts the famous MAKS airshow, apart from the MiG-25 Edge of Space Flights it offered MiG-23 Flogger Flights, MiG-29 Flights and Su-27 Flanker Flights. The MiG-25 Foxbat reached an altitude of up to 25km, the view from there is comparable to what is known from satellite prictures: The curvature of the earth can be seen very clearly, the atmosphere is like a blue fog far far below and the sky above is black with millions of stars.
MiG-29 Edge of Space Flights on Sokol Airbase today
After Edge of Space Flights in the fastest jet fighter MiG-25 stopped when tourist flights operation stopped, MiGFlug and it’s US subidiary FlyFighterJet hat to watch for another opportunity to offer supersonic and Edge of Space flights. In the same year, in 2006, MiGFlug sent the first customer to fly MiG-29 to Sokol Airbase in Nizhniy Novgorod, about an hour from Moscow. The first 3 years of MiG operations at Sokol, the MiG-29 flights focused on acrobatics and the MiG-31 Foxhound, the successor of the MiG-25, flew to the Edge of Space with customers. After 2008 the MiG-31 was used for tests with the Russian Air Force. The MiG-29 was from now on used for both, MiG-29 Aerobatics program and the new MiG-29 Edge of Space program. The MiG-29 reaches about 22-23km, so substantially more than the English Electric Lightning in Thunder City. After Thunder City stopped operations in 2010, the MiG-29 Flight is not only the last Edge of Space Flight worldwide, but also the last possibility for a supersonic flight.
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MiG-29 Flight video
This video shows one of the first customers flying the MiG-29 Fulcrum on Sokol airbase, Nizhiny Novgorod
Additional Articles and Ressources
- Fly with the Blue Angels
- What happened to Thunder City?
- Fighter Jet Rides
- Edge of Space Flights
- MiG-29 Supersonic Flight in Russia