I climb the ladder, and Kulikov’s men snug me into the tight cockpit. You do not step into a MiG, not really; rather, you pull it on over you like you do your VKK-15 coveralls! They pull tightly on the IPS-72 harness, to ensure that I will not bounce around in the cockpit during maneuvers. Kulikov himself can be heard in my headphones when I plug in, and we go through the dance-flight surfaces for motion, and powering up the aircraft. He signals me to start my left motor, and the Klimov turbofan whines to life. Swiftly followed by the right. Next to me, Vasily is finished with his preflight checks. It is time to taxi out. I return Lt. Kulikov’s sharp, professional salute and nose 11 Red out of the hangar.
Once the aircraft is clear of the hangar I key up and call the tower, requesting clearance to taxi.
“Viper 7 flight of two, Cobra 7 flight of two clear to taxi for runway 27 and hold.”
I repeat back the instructions, and set throttles for taxi power. We line up smartly, ready to go.