Customer Spotlight: J. Russell Armstrong

Each month, we profile one of our great customers. Our December spotlight customer is J. Russell Armstrong of the Classic Jet Aircraft Association!

The CJAA recently held a fly-in event for private owners of former military jets, in Sulphur Springs, Texas. The organization routinely conducts the get-togethers, known as Jet Blasts, around the country.

“I hosted the first annual CJAA Texas Jet Blast,” Armstrong said. “We get together and we go out and practice formation flying. There’s nothing more exhilarating that flying at almost 200 knots in formation.”

The CJAA promotes the interests of hundreds of classic jet owners nationwide and runs training, safety and maintenance programs regularly. The Texas event drew six jets and about two dozen pilots and  associates, Armstrong said.

Before the Jet Blast, Armstrong ordered custom caps, coins and patches from us for his fellow pilots. “I ordered some stuff you don’t normally get,” he said. “Everybody loved it. I loved the products. I was very pleased.”

For general aviation pilots, the Jet Blasts, which the CJAA sponsors in various locations around the country each year, offer a refreshing dose of speed.

“As a general aviation pilot, the dream is to fly a jet,”  Armstrong said.

He caught the flying bug early. He piloted his first solo flight at age 16 before high school, then got his driver’s license after class the same day.

The Aero L-39 Albatros that Armstrong flies is a high performance trainer developed in Czechoslovakia (now the Czech Republic and the Slovak Republic). The Albatros (Czech spelling) was produced between 1971 and 1996, with nearly 3,000 built.

It’s not a hobby for the faint of heart – or wallet. Surplus military jets can be surprisingly affordable to buy – from $30,000 to $50,000. But that’s just the beginning, Armstrong noted.

He bought his first jet, a British trainer, in 2017 for just $34,000. “Unfortunately, after purchase and upgrades to make it safe, I had almost $100,000 in it,” he said. “But still … lots of fun.”

The jets aren’t cheap to run, either.  Burning 200 to 400 gallons of jet fuel per hour, they can cost $1,000 or more an hour to fly.

Photographer Gary Daniels captured the fantastic shot above of five warbirds flying in formation  at the Jet Blast. Armstrong’s Albatros is the aircraft painted in U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds livery at the bottom of the picture. Videographer Erik Johnston also shot a video of a formation training flight.

We appreciate Mr. Armstrong’s confidence in our products, and wish him and the CJAA many more happy hours in flight!

For more information about the Classic Jet Aircraft Association, check out their website at https://classicjets.org.