February, Abu Dhabi / Phuket A friend of mine works with Britannia and we joined him on a worktrip to Phuket. By the time the crew stopped in Abu Dhabi two days on the way there as well as on the return. We were welcomed to warmer country by a Shaheen TU5 on lease from Belavia.
Photographing here can be a little dodgy so make sure you are not able to see the airport from your location of photography. Sometimes this doesn't help either. We started at Dubai approach getting some Emirates, PIA, Gulf Air and Iran Asseman before we continued to Sharjah.
This was my chance to finally try the famous ramptour with all the russliners passing here. We had permission but unfortunately not a written one. Bad misstake! Arriving there only to find out the permission we were promised no longer existed and we were asked to get back next week. No discussions helped. This is the only picture from this airport...
Instead we continued our journey to Ras Al Khaimah. Ramp access can be bought here but not much on the airport this time so we took what we could through the fence, a Libyan Il76, two all white Yak42's and an Il62 also white. The fence was pretty terrible and didn't offer any nice views but the Gulfstream 1 stored since 1998 also got pictured as this was the former Swedish CAA calibrator SE-LFV.
Some discussions with guards on the way out and then off to Umm Al Quwain for the Il76 parked on the beach next to the small airfield. Returning via Dubai to discover the previous spot for approaches from land was replaced by a construction site for the runwayextension. 300mm on a 747 was not what we prefered.
The F50 of Kish Air was far away but I'm glad I wasted a picture anyway as this aircraft crashed near Sharjah some days later. Next morning we boarded the 767 together with the crew and through the open door we got some Gulf Air and Gulf Traveller.
In Phuket we stayed on the hillside at first but moved on to the beach later on. Phuket Air YS-11 was a welcome addition as was the different colors of Air Asia. Narrowbodies from Thai and Air China needs to be taken overthere as goes for the Uni Air MD-90 and the Thai Army Jetstream 41.
From the beach you have access to the aircrafts taxing to and from the terminal. Its just a 100m walk and you can here the aircrafts before it's time to be there. Some shopping, good food and then back to Abu Dhabi.
We knew there was a museum near Sharjah and in the middle of the city we found the hangar and control tower of the former airforce base. Here we found a DC-3, Dove, Anson and Heron inside. And yes, the pictures are in color but the white walls and dark blue colors doesn't really help does it?
Then we started our journey towards Abu Dhabi. Crashing the rentalcar, picking up a new one several hours later and then finally ending up at the approach to Abu Dhabi. Very slow traffic in combination with the kind of busy day, we gave up quite early and had a good dinner at our Hotel instead.
Next morning once again boarding with the crew and got some new ones through the doors before heading for Stockholm again. Our big mistake after the cancelled Sharjah tour I think was not going to Fujairah. My friend thought it was not possible to take photos from the outside but I later found great pictures from a nearby hillside.
May, Rotterdam / Amsterdam Celebrating my girlfriends birthday, trying out the new Basiq Air route from Skavsta to Rotterdam. Most of the time were spent in the city of Rotterdam but we aslo took the train to Amsterdam to visit my friend working for KLM. We had a nice barbeque in the evening and the day after was booked for Schipol airport and the traditional ramptour.
June - July, Moscow / Yakutsk / Khabarovsk / Irkutsk / Novosibirsk / Tomsk / Samara / Tyumen
Arriving Sheremetyevo with Aeroflot A319. We were earlier than the group from UK and we had dinner in the famous restaurant making some shots through the windows. A couple of Il86's from Atlant Soyus and Vaso as well as some Aeroflot 767's freshly painted. A Qatar A319 also passed before it was time to go meet Spongebob and Co.
First by bus to Vnukovo for the traditional ramptour. As always some aircrafts were recognised since earlier but with titles changed. Same procedure as before, most aprons on the schedule but not allowed to walk around too much. Instead the bus drove some 300m and we got off, made some shots, got on and another 300m. New this year was the large amount of VIP Tu134's, a new version I've not seen before called 3M. Otherwise the pattern could be recognised; large number of 134's, 154's, Yak40's and 42's as well as Ant's, mainly An24's. A couple of hours later we moved on to VARZ 400 where not much happened since last year. One of the highlights this year was the Tu154M prototype which I saw at Zhukovsky 1999 but since then it passed the paintshop and now shined in blue and silver, carrying titles "Future Aircraft Control Testbed". The Kish Air 154 was still present but being dismantled. IRS Aero 154 also waited for better days. Some aircrafts propably had a chat with the axeman since last year as well.
Then off to Myachkovo where the mood was not very cheerful. All flying activities was cancelled due to the crash day before. Unfortunately the Lisunov 2 got some problems while on a trainingflight and went down in a nearby village. It was a total writeoff which was confirmed by the sight of a truck arriving some hours after us. It carried a load of twisted green metal and an engine from the unlucky bird. This airfield hosts a lot of private aircrafts but the smallest I care for is An2's. A lot of them as well as L410's and also the bunch of An30's are still present. Two immaculate looking Il14's propably active and some Atran leftovers parked in the grass, definitely not flying... A Sabreliner with russian reg was quite surprising. Some of the An30's were moved around since my first visit 1999 and with clearblue sky this time I had to work the complete field once again.
Today it was time for Monino. It was my third time now and not much happend since last. Some aircrafts were repainted and the sad looking burned out Tu124 still not taken care of. Next stop was Khodinka and the fighter museum. We managed also to get the Il76 left next to the old Ilyushin factory where all Il18's were built. Last stop for today was Tushino and I've been there before as well so the few An2's left were basically same as before but at least got some new ones plus an Il14.
Extremly dull morning started at Sheremetyevo 1 with a tour of the terminal apron and the northeastern side. Then by the bus to VIP area, passing as usual the Aeroflot maintenance area where many of the Il86's were still parked together with some 76's. The Il62's seemed to be gone by now, only some piles of metal and engine inlets remained. A quick stop for some work with the longlens on the Lukoil apron and then we drove around the west side to Sheremetyevo 1 getting a freshly painted Il96 from Aeroflot and the only (?) flying Aeroflot Il86 with the new titles. On the way back we got some bizjets on the latest "russian" register - P4. More and more of the russian bizjets are being registered at Aruba as well as Bermuda. We also made a stop at the technical training center outside the far northeast corner and got some of the early production airliners being kept there.
By the time quite used to those uncomfortable busrides I woke up at Bykovo, also known by spotters as "Yakovo". Here you find a rework facility for Il76's and Yak42's. The remains of the once proud flagcarrier of this airport, Bykovo Avia, are now gathered in a corner next to the runway. This time we were strictly watched by security all the time making it almost impossible to get anything in the storage area outside the rework. We witnessed one of Gromovs An12's taking off before we headed home agan.
During our days in Moscow we stayed in the huge hotel Rossia next to the Red Square. It was an impressive building, approx 200x200m with separte entrances on easch side. They even had a hospital in one of the parts (my dad found out this when trying to reach the breakfast area). This was the last time here and the hotel has since been torned away. As our flight to Yakutsk were leaving Domodedovo later this day, our ramptour was organised today. Starting by walking the Il76 apron where, in order to get as many as possible squeesed in, 28mm lens was sometimes not wide enough. VIM Airlines just got their first 757's and we were quite happy as the colors were immaculate. A number of An74's and a Libyan Il62. The active terminalaprons were passed and we took what we could through the windows. We continued to Atran's apron and after working our way down the row of An12's we positioned us for some hours in the shadow below one of the tails and watched movements passing. Many Sibir and UT Air Tu154's but also lots of other interesting airlines as Tajikistan, Orenburg, Azerbaijan, Samara and Bashkirian. Time running out and we had a quick tour around some other aprons once again only thorugh the windows but some of the aircrafts were good anough anyway; Tatarstan, Astrakhan, Turan Air and Aeromost. Boarding our overnight Il62 bound for Yakutsk, and did I sleep well on the last row between the four Soloviev's...
Arriving early morning in a cold and windy Yakutsk. After waiting for hours before they sorted out what bags belonged to our group (we were treated as VIP's) we got a tour of the main aprons. After some negotiations we were driven to the closed runway where a great number of former Sakha Avia aircrafts were dumped. After lunch we headed for the smaller field up west called Magan. Here a large number of An2's and L410's were found. A sole An3T topped the row of An2's but the most surprising was the complete tail of an Il62 still present. This aircraft diverted here years ago and the runway was too short so they could never take off, at least thats the story they told us! After spending some hours of walking in the wind we were happy to get onto the bus taking us back to Yakutsk again. By the time we arrived the weather got better and with heavy dark clouds in the background we got a quick sunny ramptour before dinner and transportation to the hotel.
With shining sun once again we asked for another tour to the closed runway to get better shots of the Sakha fleet. Time to board our Alrosa Tu134 and fly to Khabarovsk. This is quite chilly, city is located nine timezones from home and I'm only two countries away! Disapointment was a fact once again. It turned out our permission for rampaccess was limited to the apron of Vostok Avia and their An28's and 38's. An experience flight were arranged for those who wanted but the group not flying were kept inside the terminal until the Ant got back. At least we got some more L410's and An2's but access to the main apron was not granted.
A tour to a nearby military field only resulting in a Tu154 in the far distance and then back to the main terminal. We did not leave totally emptyhanded as we managed to get some shots through the terminal windows. It had to be with caution to the guards who didn't really like this. One from the group was not as careful as supposed to and ended up with some "friends" from the police later in the evening and it was VERY close he had to stay in Khabarovsk... After some delay it was time to continue with a Sibir Tu154 to our next stop - Irkutsk.
Irkutsk is situated very close to the worlds deepest lake. Our ramptour at Irkutsk were only granted if we went on an excursion to the lake first. Many tourmembers were not that impressed by the fact but I were quite happy. It was only one airport in the region and we would still have lots of time. After yet another unforgetable busride with a bus barely climbing the hills we arrived at the lake. Just to give you an impression of how big it is, the depth is 1637m and it contains one fifth of the worlds freshwater, as much as the northern Americas great lakes volume together. The water was crystal clear and being here I thought it called for a swim! I can assure you it was a quick one as the temperature was propably not more than 10 degrees. The photos of my friend didn't work out the first time and I joined hime for a second swim! Then some souvenir shopping along the harbour.
Back at the airport we found a gate next to the airport hotel which overlooked part of the Antonov rework facilities and we made some shots of the Angara 403 Airlines aircrafts parked here. The ramptour was great, despite the fact it was as usual a very interesting "military" area hosting a large number of civil Il76's - no access! There was also a large area with Ants waiting for rework - no access! However this was during a weekend and rework should be closed. This helped us as the guide allowed the bus to stop along the concrete wall letting us get not all but most of them. Tesis, Dobrolet and a couple of Gazpromavia Il76's passed the lens before we arrived at Angaras line station. I actually thought there should be more leftovers of Baikal Airlines nicely blue colorscheme but I counted four An24's only. In the evening there was a flight from MIAT Mongolian scheduled to arrive. With almost no light left the Ant roared over our hotel. Our Yak42 for Novosibirsk was delayed and we rested at the hotel until midnight.
Arriving at Novosibirsk to find out "our" bus from last year was still used for our local transportation. A detour to Severny where we had no access this time but some tourmembers not being here before were happy. Weather was a bit unstable this time but we enjoyed a ramptour at Tolmachevo in the afternoon. We had one extra day without plans and our tourguide came up with the idea of chartering an An24 from Tomsk Avia and fly to Tomsk.
The Tomskflight turned out to be operated by Novosibirsk Avia and we took off in heavy rainfall. When disembarking at Tomsk the weather was better and we enjoyed a ramptour through the Yak40's, L410's and An2's. Not a large number but some new intersting airlines.
Back to Severny an hour later and afternoon were spent at the apron of Tolmachevo. Sibir were by the time still not rebranded to S7 and we got some Il86's not seen before as well as the new Volga Dnepr 747F. It parked in a remote spot and we had to walk through the grass maybe 50 meters to get it. This was where propably the total amount of siberian mosquitos lived. At least that was how the quick run felt like... In the afternoon we were supposed to fly with a Tu134 to Samara. Instead we enjoyed a 19 hour delay due to broken plane. Some of us found better places to sleep...
Supposed to visit the Tu154 rework facilities in the morning but due to the delay arriving Samara in the afternoon. No understanding at all by the factory staff, we simply missed our appointment and our tour was off the schedule. Great dinner and some beers anyway. Was also quite interesting to find out our local transportation was provided by "Göstas resor". The bus had all the interior signs still in swedish as well, and this is more than 2000km from Sweden. I wonder if Gösta know about this...
Ramptour at Kurumoch before lunch. A great number of Samara aircrafts, mainly Tu154's but Yak42's and Yak40's as well. Sun finally with us again. Only area without access this time, the hangar apron, hosted some Tu134´s of Samara and a Yak42 of Air Volga. Luckily we passed it when walking along the apron next to it, towards the two Payam Il76's.
Then off to Smyshlyayevka, home of the Technical Institute. Too much time spent at the helicopter rework and dark clouds building up put us in a hurry for the institute. We wanted sunny pictures, specially of the Tu144 but also the many other interseting airliners. Back to the city, dinner and strolling by the river where plenty of beerstands could be found.
Extremly foggy morning and we boarded a Gazpromavia Yak42 for the flight to Tyumen. The ramptour here was great, I don't think we missed anything. Only restrictions were we couldn't take any pictures towards the radar equipment. Some in the group almost got us thrown out when "checking a registration" on an aircraft passing the radar. Security do not see any difference between aiming with the camera with or without taking pictures. Perfectly understandable and I think the person involved understood the rest of our groups argumentation... In a far corner of the apron, remains of Tyumen Airlines fleet were dealing with the axeman or still stored waiting for a possible future. The new company based here, UT Air, seemed to grow quickly. A sole Polet An30 made Spongebob very happy and lots of Yak40's, Ant's and Tu154's as well as some withdrawn Il76's and Tu134's, even CCCP-registered.
When done with Roschino we set off for Plekhanova. Main issue was the helicopter rework with the large and rare Mi10's. Lunch in a restaurant halfway and when arriving at the field I understood this was going to be the largest An2 collection I ever seen. I ended up with 57 (!) new An2's. There were three different companies among those, Tyumen Aviatrans, Tyumen Spets Avia and of course Aeroflot. The helicopters are really impressive too and was represented by both Mi10's and Mi26's as well as a long row of Mi8's. All over the field there was spares to be found; rotorhubs, rotorblades, engines. Everything seemed to be unused but starting to rotten away in the woodenboxes.
Later we flew back to Domodedovo with UT Air Tu134 and a final beer at the airport hotel, celebrating the trip which turned out really good despite the minor misshaps and delays. In total I got over 700 new airliners on the trip! 126 An2's, 28 L410's, 65 An24's, 38 An26's, 24 An30's , 45 Yak40's, 27 Yak42's, 61 Tu134's, 114 Tu154's, 30 Il76's, 21 Il86's and an impressive amount of 14 assorted Boeings! This is the main reason for going there but unfortunately the amount of western built aircrafts increases from year to year.