George Pick Aerotours

in association with

George Pick Aerotours Weekend visit to Moscow - July 2006

Here is Steve Grimshaw's report of our weekend whizz around Moscow in July 2006.

(Click on a picture to see a full size image)

I've just returned from a long weekend in Moscow which was an interesting experience to say the least. We flew with Lufthansa via Frankfurt; but the best flights were to come - more of that later.

Here are a few taken last Thursday - most of the day was spent travelling, but we managed to visit Red Square too (very impressive), despite being held up at SVO passport control for an hour and a half !

I was surpised how many lakes and forrests surround Moscow - also the shear size of the city, and the amount of traffic is unbelievable.

Only 1 of our party was arrested, which is apparently good going, and he was'nt with the rest of the group at the time.

One of the highlights of the trip for me was on Friday when we flew from Moscow Domodedovo to Nizhny Novgorod on board Tartastan Airlines Tu-134, RA65970.

Boarding was like stepping back into the real jet age, none of your plush interiors with in-flight entertainment etc. Instead we had the magnificent roar of the engines as we rocketed-off deeper into Russia.

Musty curtains and perished rubber seals on the windows, seats that collapsed on landing, a spare wheel in the back; all added to this 'early 70's experience'.

A very friendly crew let us move around the cabin and take photos, in stark contrast to the return flight with UT-Air.

All too soon the flight was over as the pilot banged this magnificent old machine down on the deck at the rather delapidated airport of Nizhny Novgorod ( Russia's third largest city).

An experience to savour for many years to come.

Can you spot the mistake on the Safety Card ?

The return flight from Nizhny Novgorod was another amazing experience - this time onboard an An24 of UT-Air.

Unfortunately photos were more difficult to come by, mainly due to the very miserable stewardess who glared piercingly at you if you dared to move, plus I did'nt have a window seat.

She was a young battle-axe in training - and Steve noticed that she had very hairy legs too !

The constant droning of the twin props and the gentle swaying sent many of the group to sleep after our surprisingly good snack meal, but all awoke as we passed high over Moscow city centre and joined overhead the field on our long downwind approach to Vnukovo, providing some excellent views of all the parked aircaft.

Touched down at 1543 local, taxiied in, then bussed to the terminal passing a multitude of exotic Tu134s, which was very frustrating to say the least. A typical example attached taken thro' the bus window.

Next it was off to Myatchikovo.

The journey to and from Myatchikovo on the Friday evening was probably the worst part of the whole trip, if you ignore the diabolical hotel food ( unless you like last night's steamed, soggy cauliflower and broccoli for breakfast ).

The traffic was horrendous, and we got lost to add to the frustration, resulting in a 3 hour journey and the miserable coach driver losing his temper !

Two lines of stored An30's, a beautiful red Il-14 and a camouflaged An2 were the highlights for me amongst mainly non-airworthy aircraft.

After some much needed sleep we awoke to blue skies once again and set off for the well-hidden airfield of Chernoye, where unfortunately again there were very few airworthy aircraft, a very smart yellow An2 being a welcome exception.

Back on the coach to Bykovo, which was once thriving but is now a very run-down airport, with a wonderful array of Russian aircraft.

A great ramp tour captured photos of virtually every aircraft present.

A couple more photos from our trip - were they dreaming of all those fantastic aircraft, or all those fantastic women, or the UT-Air stewardess with the hairy legs?

A few more from Domodedovo - a superb place where East meets West as far as aircraft are concerned, as typified by the first shot.

Sadly more and more Western types are replacing Russian ones as time goes by, with some of the stored Ilyushins unlikely to ever fly again.

Sunday morning brought our eagerly awaited ramp tour of Vnukovo - unfortunately Sodski's Law came into play and it rained for most of the tour, but a few minutes of brightness towards the end, plus the fantastic aircraft with hardly a Western type in sight, made it well worthwhile.

It was like Tu134 and Tu154 heaven, with a few Antonovs, Il's and Yaks thrown in for good measure.

Sunday afternoon provided the best photographic opportunities of the whole trip back at Domodedovo, with us being positioned by a taxi-way in front of one of the active runways.

A very annoying line of cloud was edging away very slowly, but not fast enough; eventually after approx 1hr of cloudy conditions the sunshine appeared and provided some wonderful lighting conditions for photos.

Ramp shots are great - but you can't beat some action shots - my favourite shot of the whole trip is the Il-62 taking off.

Our last day , Monday, arrived all too soon but with beautiful blue skies for our ramp tour at Sherymetyvo.

Some great aircraft sat in the sunshine interspersed by the roar of mainly Tu134s and Tu154s taking off (unfortunatley looking into the sun ),made for a wonderful morning.

The afternoon was intended to be spent in the bar overlooking the apron, but we were soon moved on by 'officials' ; so we retired to another bar to sample a few beers before our flight home with Lufthansa via Frankfurt.

A superb trip overall - great thanks must go to Steve Kinder ( tour leader ), Olga ( our interpretor ) and George Pick ( tour operator ) - plus of course the other Manchester boys, Simon, John and Steve for great company as usual.