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MiG Pilot: The Final Escape of Lt. Belenko (1980)

by John Barron

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Tells of MIG-25 pilot Viktor Belenko's escape from the Soviet Union, the events he precipitated in Washington, Moscow, and Tokyo, the secrets he disclosed, and the impact of his flight on world affairs. To be a MIG pilot in Russia is to be as close to heaven as communism allows. Millions are spent on your training. And nothing is too lavish for your living. Lt Viktor Belenko was a MIG-25 pilot - one of Russia's elite warriors and the supreme expression of the ideal communist man. Or so everyone believed.
Thwn on September 6, 1976, while on a routine training flight, Lt. Belenko veered off course - and embarked on an incredible escape, an unforgiveable betrayal of his nation, and a daring and torturous personal journey of hope and courage.
MIG PILOT is the thrilling true story of how Russia's greatest air military secret was stolen and delivered right into America's lap. But it's more - it's the fascinating life story of a peasant's son who grew up to possess every luxury and honor Russia can bestow. And who threw it all away for one desperate chance to possess a dream. The American Dream.
  MasseyLibrary | Mar 30, 2019 |
The story of Victor Belenko, the MiG-25 pilot who defected with his aircraft to Japan in 1976 and gave Western intelligence agencies an exclusive look at one of the most feared aircraft of its day.

This ghost-written book appeared under the 'Reader's Digest' imprint, so it must be expected that it would have an anti-Soviet bias, even before considering its subject matter. That Belenko felt the need to defect is indicative of the pressure put on Soviet pilots and others during the Cold War times, rather than an admission of the failure of the Soviet system. Where this book falls down is that it doesn't talk in detail about the findings of the CIA analysis of the MiG-25, which revealed that many of the weaknesses of Soviet engineering were actually strengths when looked at in a more rational way; for example, the limited use of flush riveting or of high-tech alloys in the construction of the aircraft; these were restricted to areas where they were actually necessary, enabling the aircraft to be more economically built. The powerful radar also attracted criticism for using thermionic valves instead of integrated circuits the way Western aircraft would; but apart from the fact of availability of advanced technology being the determining factor, the American analysts were impressed with the way that the MiG's radar was devised for step-by-step maintenance by unskilled personnel, enabling a complex system to have minimal downtime, unlike the aircraft's American counterparts.

The book's glimpses of life in a front-line Soviet aviation unit are of interest, but need to be read through the filter of the book's inherent bias. Given that, it is an interesting volume nonetheless. ( )
2 vote RobertDay | Dec 18, 2010 |
The story follows Belenko, poster-boy of a New Communist, from his childhood to his escape in one of Russia's prize fighters. I love this book. It's funny, suspenseful, and very real. From spraying trees green, drinking jet fuel, listening to illicit guitar music, and watching your ceiling slowly collapse, this book is a never-ending source of amusement but also an education in Cold War era Soviet life. I highly recommend this book to anyone who is interested in Russian culture, Soviet-American relations, the Cold War, the workings of aircraft or fighter pilots, biographies, or if you just plain enjoy a good story. ( )
  lilygirl | Jun 22, 2009 |
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