If you are in the Sunset Beach, Ocean Isle or Holden Beach area of Southeastern NC over the Fourth of July you are apt to see what looks like a Russian MIG screaming through the summer skies.
Don’t be alarmed its just our friend, Dean Belk of Raleigh, in his restored former Czech military jet plane. Belk owns a home at Ocean Isle Beach and every major summer holiday he makes a spectacular arrival in this eye (and ear) catching conveyance!
“The plane was brought into the country probably around 2003, 2004 and I acquired it about a year later” said Belk, “I completely took it down and built it back up with as much American parts as I could put in it.”
He spent a year and a half just rewiring the plane (it has over three miles of wiring in it!). In all it took over four and half years with over 5,000 man hours to restore and upgrade the plane to it’s current state.
While his 1980 L39 Albatross had been a Czech military plane it was during the time that Czechoslovakia was part of the Eastern Bloc under the control of the Soviet Union. “I probably have to get with a Russian guy that I know who could read the log books to tell me it’s full history of where it went. But I think it pretty much stayed in the European heater.”
In his spare time Belk attends airshows and takes a few lucky people for an exhilarating ride. “At low altitude top end is around 400 knots (about 460 miles per hour) and when I am doing acrobatic maneuvers I am generally in the 300 knot range as I enter a maneuver to have enough energy to complete the maneuver.”
Belk started flying as a 13 year old flying mostly Cessna 150s and ended up doing flight instruction to build up his hours in flight. Then he attended Clemson University flying for university while there..
Then after graduating he worked for a time as a charter pilot before flying for various airlines.
You can usually find Dean Belk and his restored Czech military jet at the Odell Williamson Municipal Airport at Ocean Isle Beach, NC over the Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day holidays (when he is not tearing through the skies overhead)!