DeKALB – The MiG-21 Russian fighter jet at DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport is scheduled to make its final departure from DeKalb this weekend.
“I got the T-shirt and lived to tell the tale and met some great people along the way,” said Paul van den Heuvel of Lake in the Hills, current owner and pilot of the Cold War-era jet. He recently sold the jet to a person in Florida.
The silhouette and the roar of the jet’s afterburners have become familiar in the skies around DeKalb County since van den Heuvel began storing it in DeKalb in January of 2009, partly because of the relatively low cost of hangar space and fuel in DeKalb. A second MiG-21 was also hangared in DeKalb for about two years; it crashed at an air show in Minnesota last July. The owner and pilot of that jet, William Ward of Ann Arbor, Mich., was not seriously injured, but the plane was totaled.
DeKalb airport manager Tom Cleveland said he occasionally received complaints about the noise the jets made, but most calls were from curious residents wondering what the jets were doing in DeKalb. He hopes other fighter jets and vintage aircraft will make their homes in DeKalb.
“I’m sad to see it go,” Cleveland said. “He has been a great tenant and he has been great about promoting the airport.”
“It’s nice for me to be able to give tours to kids and adults and to be able to see a Russian fighter jet here in the hangar,” he added.