Privately owned MiG-23 crashes in Michigan

Two crew members eject successfully as ex-Czech Air Force jet comes down near Willow Run Airport

The two crew members aboard privately owned Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG-23UB N23UB ejected successfully before the aircraft crashed in Belleville, Michigan, on Sunday 13 August. It had been performing on the second day of the Thunder over Michigan airshow at nearby Willow Run Airport.

Both men on board the jet came down by parachute into Belleville Lake. The MiG-23 itself crashed close to the nearby Waverly on the Lake apartment complex, but while photos show wreckage in the vicinity of the buildings, no injuries or fatalities were reported on the ground. Both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) are investigating.

"The pilots declared an emergency as they had some engine loss of power issues and were not able to correct that and elected to eject from the airplane", said John Brannen, senior air safety investigator from the NTSB at a press conference on 14 August.

Brannen confirmed that the pilot sustained "serious but not life-threatening injuries", while the observer and second crew member had minor injuries.

According to the investigator, the jet had completed the first of three passes at the airshow and was circling around for its second flyby when it experienced engine difficulties.

"After they ejected, the airplane impacted the ground and travelled about 500ft after the initial impact point and went through some trees and wound up next to an apartment building", explained Brannen.

N23UB was a former Czech Air Force two-seat example of the ‘Flogger’, which operated with serial 8107 until retirement during 1998. The aeroplane first appeared on the US civil register in 2006. It was owned by ex-US Navy pilot Dan Filer, and was based at East Texas Regional Airport in Gregg County.

MiG-23UB N23UB taking off at the Sun 'n Fun show at Lakeland, Florida, in April 2023.
MiG-23UB N23UB taking off at the Sun 'n Fun show at Lakeland, Florida, in April 2023. ALAMY