I’m going to need you to stop what you’re doing and check out this tantalizing plane for sale. This 1962 Canadair CF-104D Starfighter is a supersonic fighter jet that goes Mach 2, and it could be yours for $850,000. It sounds like a whole hell of a lot of fun. Group buy, anyone?
Many pilots dream of taking to the skies in something a bit faster and a bit sexier than an old Cessna. Don’t get me wrong, a good ol’ Cessna 172 is like a loyal dog that you can always count on. But the prospects of going faster — much faster — are alluring. If you have the cash and the correct certificate, you can blast off higher than 100,000 feet in this Canadair CF-104D Starfighter.
This CF-104D Starfighter is actually a license-built Lockheed F-104 Starfighter. About 200 of these were built in Canada by Canadair, Silodrome reports. Canadair built many military and civilian aircraft before it was acquired by Bombardier in 1986. You may know it best for its Challenger business jets or its Canadair Regional Jet developments. One of the planes in the company’s historical roster is the CF-104D, a plane with nicknames like “The Flying Phallus” and the “Aluminum Death Tube” from the pilots that flew it.
How fast is this thing? Power comes from a General Electric J79 turbojet. It’s good for 11,900 pounds of thrust, and that gets kicked up to 17,900 pounds with its afterburner. The Starfighter is noted for being the first fighter to reach Mach 2 (1,328 mph) and the first to reach an altitude of 100,000 feet taking off under its own power.
Also take note of its short and thin supersonic wings. It’s a plane that handles better at speeds above Mach 1, the Aviation Geek Club notes. But that doesn’t mean that it’s easy to fly.
See, those tiny wings meant that the Starfighter turned poorly and it had a high landing speed. The plane’s stall speed is 172 knots, HistoryNet notes — higher than what pilots were used to at the time. Those same tiny wings also meant that most of the aircraft’s fuel and landing gear had to be stored in the fuselage, limiting its range.
Armament included a 20mm M61 Vulcan autocannon that fired 6,000 rounds a minute, fast enough to drain its 725-round drum in just seven seconds. It also could carry two AIM-9 Sidewinder air-to-air missiles. The aircraft served for a short time in the U.S. Air Force before getting shipped off around the world to NATO nations. Netherlands, Belgium, Japan, Italy, Canada and yep, Germany, all flew the F-104 as an attack fighter.
The plane was so unforgiving to mistakes that the German Air Force nicknamed it the “Widow Maker.”
Germany sent its pilots to Luke Air Force Base in sunny Phoenix, Arizona for training, Aviation Geek Club explains. That went well, but when the pilots got back to Germany and had to fly in low-level, high speed missions and through bad weather, the planes started crashing. In the end, 292 of Germany’s 916 F-104s crashed, taking 116 pilots with them.
Still, even with their downsides, pilots reportedly loved flying them.
This Canadair CF-104D has gone through a few owners to get to where it is today. It was delivered to the Canadian Armed Forces in 1962, serving until 1973 when the jet got sold to the Norwegian Air Force. It was sold again in 1984 to Combat Jets Aircraft Museum in California, before making it to the Combat Jets Flying Museum in Texas.
In 1986, NASA Starfighter pilot Ed Schneider made the plane’s first flight under civilian registration.
Ownership changed again in 1992 to the Experimental Aircraft Association, at Oshkosh, Wisconsin before changing again to Fuel Fresh Inc. in 1995.
It is noted as having a total of 2,500 hours on its airframe, 400 of which were added since its restoration by Unlimited Aircraft in Chino, California. The seller of the aircraft notes that it has flown only 200 hours in the past 22 years, and it hasn’t flown since 2008. Thankfully, it was maintained in flying condition while it was stored, so this baby is completely functional.
The restoration brought the aircraft to stock military configuration, and in case you’re wondering, oh yeah, the ejection seats are hot!
For the price of $850,000, you get the plane, volumes of maintenance manuals, two spare engines, more than four spare afterburners, 150 main gear tires, a couple dozen front tires, and seemingly enough parts to build another one short of another fuselage. It’s a shame there aren’t any pictures provided of where the seller is storing 150 tires for this.
Of course, flying this beast is going to require some training. It’s registered as an experimental exhibition aircraft, and you’ll likely need authorization added to your current pilot license. Amazingly, there are schools out there that will teach private pilots how to fly a fighter jet.
$850,000 sounds like a potentially fantastic deal, even if you’re the kind of rich person that buys things just to display them. It’s cheaper than a Bugatti Veyron, and it’s cheaper some houses. Anyone want to go in on this with me?