Need Your Own Private Air Force in a Hurry? There’s One For Sale
Twenty old warplanes for a new low price
by TOM DEMERLY
Ever wanted to command your own private air force? Here’s your chance — and the price seems reasonable.
Raptor Aviation in Port St. Lucie, Florida has listed for sale 20 jet trainers. An entire squadron, spare parts and sundries included! The aircraft are IAI Tzukits, Israeli versions of France’s Fouga CM.170 Magister.
The price? Only $200,000 for the lot.
There’s a catch. The detailed listings on Raptor’s website and Facebook page reveal that the aircraft have racked up a lot of flight hours. “They’ll need about $20,000 to $25,000 in repairs before they can fly again,” said a Raptor employee who gave his name only as Albert. “They need some restoration.”
The Tzukit is a twin-engine, tandem two-seater with a mostly straight wing and unique “V” tail like that on the Beechcraft Bonanza. The aircraft cost $75,000 new in 1955. That’s $675,000 today.
The Israelis used their somewhat lumbering Tzukits as strike planes during the 1967 Six Day War. The Belgian Red Devils and Irish Silver Swallows aerobatic teams also flew Magisters.
Mercenary pilots working for the secessionist Katangese flew three Magisters during the 1961 siege of Jadotville in Congo. The mercenaries shot up and bombed two of the United Nations’ four-engine DC-4 transports and a smaller twin-engine DC-3 on the ground.
If you want to start your own air force in the United States, however, the FAA, FBI and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco and Firearms will want to have a chat with you, first.
Albert from Raptor said “fleet” sales like this aren’t unusual. “I could list you a dozen fleets for sale right now, everything from these to other types of retired trainers. It’s just like anything else. Air forces have to update their equipment. This is one place the old planes go.”
“One of two things will happen with the planes,” Albert added. “Someone will buy them and sell them off as individual aircraft — we see that all the time — or they’ll be sold as scrap.”
Considering that a single aircraft ejector seat can fetch well over $20,000 on the collector’s market, the Tzukits could represent a good money-making venture.
Buyer beware — there’s one more, ahem, small hurdle. “Whoever buys them has to get them back [to the United States],” Albert said.
Where are they now? “Israel.”
Originally published at The Aviationist on Jan. 17, 2017.