Exploring the World of Ex-Military Aircraft for Personal Use

For those with an abundance of wealth and a passion for aviation, purchasing ex-military aircraft for personal use is a fascinating endeavor. From air shows to private enjoyment, owning a retired military plane opens up a world of possibilities. However, before delving into the process of acquiring and flying these unique aircraft, it’s essential to understand the regulations, challenges, and considerations involved.

Sourcing Ex-Military Aircraft

Acquiring ex-military aircraft for personal use is not as straightforward as buying a civilian aircraft. Unlike surplus military equipment, which is typically retired to facilities like the Davis–Monthan Air Force Base (AMARG) in Arizona, US, retired planes are not sold directly to private operators. Instead, private entities often source these aircraft from foreign government entities interested in selling them to avoid scrapping them for parts.

Regulatory Considerations

While it’s possible to fly ex-military aircraft, it’s essential to navigate the regulatory landscape carefully. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) outlines airworthiness conditions for these aircraft in an advisory circular (AC), emphasizing the need for proper certification, maintenance, and operation. Potential owners should be aware of the costs and responsibilities associated with certifying and operating military aircraft, as bringing them into a safe operating condition can be a significant investment.

Certification Process

Certifying ex-military aircraft involves several steps, including demilitarization to remove weapons and other military equipment not approved for civilian use. Aircraft must also be registered and certified under the experimental aircraft category, with local FAA offices assisting in the process. Additionally, test flights are conducted to ensure the aircraft’s airworthiness and safety before finalizing the purchase.

Acquiring Ex-Military Aircraft

Several companies specialize in selling ex-military aircraft, offering a range of models from different eras. Websites like Platinum Fighters and Jet Art Aviation feature a variety of aircraft, including iconic models like the Supermarine Spitfire and Mikoyan Guerevich MiG-21. While prices vary depending on the aircraft’s condition and rarity, owning a piece of aviation history comes with its rewards and challenges.


Owning an ex-military aircraft for personal use is a unique and exhilarating experience, allowing enthusiasts to indulge their passion for aviation and history. However, it’s essential to understand the regulatory requirements, certification process, and associated costs before embarking on this journey. With proper planning and diligence, acquiring and flying these iconic aircraft can be a rewarding endeavor for aviation enthusiasts worldwide.

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