Carl Hoffman wrote a profile of Don Kirlin in this month’s issue of Wired. The opening photo showed Kirlin’s hangar, stocked with fighter jets from the former Soviet Union and Romania.
“Kirlin’s collection began as a rich man’s game to buy the baddest toys money can buy. Then he realized there were others who coveted the planes as much as he did. So he started a business, Air USA, to sell the L-39s to doctors and executives looking for a nifty flying sports car with twin ejection seats, capable of aerobic loops and rolls and approaching the speed of sound.
As Kirlin puts it, why plod about at 120 mph in a $300,000 Cessna when you can fly four times as fast in an L-39 that costs the same and looks a hundred times sexier? “Look at this,” he says, whipping open the forward avionics bay in the nose of an L-39. “We strip out the old stuff, put in light American avionics, save 800 pounds, and there’s enough room for a set of golf clubs.”