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MiG-21 'just a toy'

Last updated 05:00 05/11/2010
MiG-21
JASON OXENHAM
ONE OF A KIND: This MiG-21 Russian fighter jet, thought to be the only one of its kind in Australasia, has been purchased by Manfred Bennett, director of NZ Seal Services. He plans to install the plane on the roof of his company’s new building in Onehunga.
MiG-21
JASON OXENHAM
ALL SMILES: Manfred Bennett says the plane purchase is just another toy and he is looking into buying a second one to mount on the building.

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THE purchase of a MiG-21 fighter jet is something to get excited about for most people.

But it's just another toy to add to the collection for Onehunga company director Manfred Bennett.

The director of NZ Seal Services picked up the plane for $59,454 on TradeMe but believes it is worth a great deal more.

"It's chicken feed. I think I enjoyed the auction more than owning the plane. It didn't sink in until it was up here."

He intends to mount the rare plane on the roof of his new offices to promote the business.

Mr Bennett is also looking at purchasing a second plane to add to the rooftop – possibly an F-111 he spotted in Brisbane.

The MiG jet, thought to be the only one of its kind in Australasia, has created a large amount of interest.

"There's people out there who are so enthusiastic about it," Mr Bennett says.

"It's the only one you can buy from the government. On weekends there are three cars abreast taking photos of it. It's good advertising."

He says the plane, built in 1973, only has 1052 hours on the clock and has a lifespan of 20,000 hours.

"It's just another toy," he says of the new acquisition. "I saw it on TradeMe and thought: `Well I can't fly it so I may as well own it'.

"It's an awesome machine. The top speed is 2125kmh and the maximum altitude is 59,000 feet. I'd love to take it up but I'd have to go to Russia to get my licence," he says. "And it's only a single-seater."

He says previous owner Christchurch property developer David Henderson imported the fighter jet from Russia.

The MiG jet attracted more than 257,000 page views during the online auction and it will now add to Mr Bennett's collection of luxury items which includes a Porsche, a Mercedes limousine, a Jaguar and a Ferrari.

"I'll also see if I can get a shell of an F-111.

"I've still got to find out."

Mr Bennett is seeking Auckland Council approval and compliance with earthquake specifications before mounting the jet on his Church St building.

He hopes to have the plane in place within the next two weeks.

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- Central Leader

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