‘Pawn Stars’: Rick Harrison Has High-Stakes Negotiations for Soviet Fighter Jet

by John Jamison

You know that section most pawnshops have—the place you go to pick up military-grade aircraft. No? Maybe that was just Rick Harrison on an early episode of “Pawn Stars.” The show’s official YouTube channel posted a clip from years ago when Rick and Chumlee made an offer on an L39 Albatross Soviet fighter jet.

Unfortunately, the “Pawn Stars” boys were unable to make a deal. But they managed to get a free airshow out of the whole deal. No. Neither Rick nor Chumlee stepped foot inside the cockpit. That’s a job for the professionals. In true Rick Harrison fashion, he called an authority on the subject.

When it comes to jets, it doesn’t get much more professional than Matthew. The man is a TOPGUN graduate and flew with the U.S. Navy’s Blue Angels. Rest assured, he’s the guy to ask about whether or not an aircraft is worth buying.

“So this is an awesome jet. This is an L39 Albatros. It’s from the former Soviet bloc, built in Czechoslovakia. There were a couple thousand of them made, and it’s the advanced jet trainer for the Soviet bloc planes,” Matthew said before looking the aircraft over for any glaring issues.

According to Matthew, the average person doesn’t have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting their hands on an American-made F-16 or F-18. So Eastern European/Soviet training jets like the L39 are a popular choice for those with a need for speed.

The good news for Rick and the seller is that Matthew gave the exterior, cockpit, and paperwork a thumbs up. A test flight was the only thing left for him to do.

Much to Chumlee’s delight, Matthew took the L39 for a spin and did everything short of buzzing the tower.

‘Pawn Stars’ Boss Rick Harrison Quickly Learned That Owning a Fighter Jet is Not Particularly Easy

So Matthew landed and confirmed that everything was in working order. Then came time for the negotiations. Matthew valued the L39 at roughly $180,000. As is often the case, the seller was none too pleased with that evaluation.

It only got worse. Rick, ever the responsible buyer, asked Matthew what the maintenance on something like a fighter jet would cost.

“Well, you’re going to need to hangar it. So that’s going to be an expense—you obviously don’t want this out in the elements. And then the other expense is the maintenance. You need to fly this jet, otherwise, it doesn’t work,” said Matthew. “A round figure is around $5,000.”

That’s not a one-time expense, ladies and gentlemen. For the privilege of owning an L39, you can expect to pay upwards of $5,000 a month.

In the end, the seller’s $200,000 asking price was way out of the “Pawn Stars” boys’ ballpark. Even after he offered to hangar the jet for them, the seller couldn’t get Rick to bite.