Aero Vodochody L39ZA/ART Albatross Jet
5240 (N39ZA) was NEVER operated in any military environment and was effectively the last L-39 ever built. 5240 was purchased new directly from Aero Vodochody.
It was built for the Royal Thai Air Force (RTAF) to their specification known as: L-39ZA/ART. Originally designated L-39ZA-MP (where “MP” stands for Multi-Purpose) this variant was intended for use as an advanced trainer, light attack aircraft and target tug. It featured westernized avionics and weapons systems supplied by ELBIT of Israel and included a differential brake pedal steering system, US solid state invertors (no more large, heavy Russian rotary invertors) and outboard pylons now re-wired to carry the AIM-9L Sidewinder missiles, along with many more enhancements compared to the original L-39.
The RTAF canceled their last order and Aero Vodochody got stuck with this final airframe. In hopes of restarting the L-39 production line, Aero Vodochody flew 5240 with this attractive factory paint scheme to the Paris Air Show (Le Bourget) and Farnborough (UK), unfortunately there were no orders or interest due to the price tag which had been set ridiculously high.
Aero Vodochody leased the weapons and rocket guidance system from ELBIT (Israel) and installed it into 5240 offering this option for a little under $2 million dollars, this escalated the aircraft price to over $8 million dollars. Potential customers had many more options in this price range, and this effectively brought the end of the L-39 production line. 5240 was flown back home and was put into storage. During a visit to the Aero Vodochody factory in Prague, 5240 was stumbled upon, hiding in the back of one of their hangars. Long story short, right time, right people, right place and with the help of a few friends a deal was made. 5240 was disassembled, shipped back to the USA, and reassembled by an expert team of Aero Vodochody engineers. 5240 is the only new, never assigned L-39 in the world, sold directly from Aero Vodochody to an individual and not a military entity.
Today, 5240 remains exactly the same as when it left the factory. The paint and avionics are all original and in working order. It is in like new condition with only a few hundred hours on the airframe and engine – always hangered, never abused and well taken care of.