When a Mig-23 Fighter Plane Flew With No Pilot for 900 Kilometers

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On 4th July 1989, Colonel Nikolai Skuridin, a Soviet pilot was instructed to fly a routine training flight on a Mig-23 from Bagicz in Poland. He did not have a hint that this was going to be one of the most bizarre flights in the history of aviation.

After carrying out his startup checks and the necessary RT calls, he was ready to take off. It was just an ordinary routine flight for him but as soon as he opened throttles, he realised his engine was not responding.

MiG-23MLD Image Source : Rob Schleiffert

He opened the afterburner but it also failed and at 150 meters above ground, he decided to eject owing to complete engine failure.

To everyone’s utter surprise, the aircraft continued flying and the engines had never completely failed. Perhaps, there was a lag in the power output.

The Aircraft was on autopilot and kept flying and crossed East Germany & West Germany. It was intercepted by F-15s of the USAF. Soon, the pilots realised it was an unmanned aircraft and reported the same. The F-15s continued the interception into the Belgian airspace and were instructed to bring down the plane in the North Sea.

To the amazement of the F-15 pilots, the aircraft gently started steering towards the south and started to descend. They realised it was because the Mig 23 was running out of fuel.

Image Source : wikimapia.org

It crashed into a house after 900 kilometers of flying. An unlucky Belgian teenager was killed in the process.

The Belgian government made a formal protest to the Soviet Union for no lack of communication. When NATO radar picked up the MiG, it was in air for one hour but no information was given to Belgium authorities.

This article is written by Alcatraz Dey on Quora.