Here's Who Bought Paul Allen's Pristine MiG-29 Fulcrum Fighter
What happens when you sell your controlling stake in a private air force? You buy yourself a 4th generation fighter of your own!
In a follow-up to our feature on Paul Allen's estate selling off his mint MiG-29UB fighter, we now know who the jet's proud new owner is. At the time of writing our original piece, we mentioned how this aircraft would have a limited number of potential buyers, regardless of how immaculate the late Microsoft co-founder kept the jet while it was part of his sprawling collection of warbirds. It turns out that the person who bought the jet was almost too logical of a possibility—none other than Jared Isaacman, the young business phenom who created his own private air force.
The highly successful entrepreneur made his original fortune in the credit card processing business that focused on the hospitality sector, creating a company, now called Shift4, in his parents' basement as a 16-year-old back in 1999. Just over a decade later, he put together Draken International, which is now one of the largest and most prolific private adversary support contractors in the world with a fleet of military jet aircraft that far surpasses the size of those of many entire countries. He became an aggressor pilot himself, flying in major exercises alongside Draken's cadre of some of the most experienced fighter pilots on earth.
In 2019, Isaacman sold his interest in Draken International for tens of millions of dollars to an investment firm and is now concentrating on his credit card processing business that has since gone public.
So, what do you do when you are a stunning success, but are no longer the CEO of the world's largest private air force? You buy the world's nicest MiG-29 Fulcrum as a personal jet, that's what!
The War Zone reached out to Isaacman about the acquisition. As a side note, I had exchanged emails with him numerous times back around 2011, when Draken was just getting off the ground. At the time, he shared some of his plans with me. We were kindred spirits as I knew full well the private adversary air support marketplace was going to explode (I even wrote all about it back then for Combat Aircraft Monthly). But in retrospect, even though some of it sounded like quite a reach, what is so interesting is that Jared did everything he said he was going to do and more. Reconnecting years and many articles on Draken International later, Isaacman told us the following about his MiG:
In terms of the Mig-29, as you know Paul Allen's estate put the aircraft up for sale last year. Having inspected and purchased a lot of fighter jets over the last decade at Draken, I definitely can spot a gem. Paul's team spared no expense taking care of that Mig-29. I feel fortunate to have been able to purchase it.
This is a personal aircraft, so it has nothing to do with Draken, and it is really for my own personal enjoyment, but I certainly plan to bring it to airshows so others can view the performance of this unique bird.
Isaacman also helped establish the Black Diamond jet team, which served as something of a developmental staging ground for Draken International, so he is no stranger to the air show community.
On flying what is basically the highest performance aircraft in civilian hands:
It's really incredible. Tons of performance. It's always flown slick, no tanks or pylons, and the temperatures are quite cold in Bozeman this time of year. An AB takeoff is a real rocketship. The stability augmentation system makes it a real smooth ride also.
It's definitely the most impressive aircraft I have flown.
That is quite the endorsement from a guy that built his own air force of aggressor jets.
I don't think Allen's MiG-29 could have found a better home and, hopefully, far larger audiences will be able to marvel in the air than ever before.
We will keep you updated as to Isaacman's adventures in his new Fulcrum and if and when it may show up at an air show near you.
Contact the author: Tyler@thedrive.com