"We've had customers who've tried their whole life to catch a ride on a supersonic jet," said Ro Nagey, director and owner of Fly With Us!, Belleair Bluffs, Fla., the U.S. division of Moscow-based Fly With Us! Ltd. "It's like having Mario Andretti take you on a couple laps at racing speed in Indianapolis. It's like going one-on-one with Shaquille O'Neal. It's as rare an experience to come across in life as there is."
Prices start at $3,100 for two to six flights of 30 to 40 minutes each aboard craft like the MiG-29 Fulcrum B, MiG-25 Foxbat, MiG-21 Fishbed, L-39 Albatross, Su-27 Flanker jets plus the Mil-24 Hund helicopter.
Packages also include hotel accommodations, meals, ground transportation in Moscow, security clearance, a pre-flight physical and a videotape of the in-air experiences. Some packages for the four- to five-day trip also offer an evening at the Bolshoi Ballet or other cultural events.
The trips are part of a deal between Fly With Us! Ltd. and Russia's Flight Research Institute, located at the formerly top secret Zhukovsky Air Base in Moscow. The planes are designed and tested at the center, which is also the home of the Russian Aeronautical & Aerospace Institute.
The flights have been offered in Russia for three years and "hundreds of people" have taken advantage so far, said Mr. Nagey. This is the first time that the trips are being advertised and offered in the U.S.
Print ads began Aug. 8 in Washington, Chicago and Palm Beach, Fla. Fly With Us!, which handles all advertising and publicity in-house, is in the process of rolling national with print ads in selected newspapers and magazines, direct mailings and limited TV spots. A separate direct mail campaign is aimed at travel agents.