Moscow Visit – 2004
Our Russian host was again Oleg Kapyrin who runs a Moscow-based travel company Krugozor and it was he who organized the minibus, passes, access to bases and museums etc and supplied our interpreter, Ilena.
This year we stayed at the Rossiya hotel - right opposite Red Square and the Kremlin.
The following is a day-by-day account of what we did, complete with photos as appropriate.
Friday 13th August
We flew with Aeroflot on flight SU242 in a Boeing 777 from London Heathrow to Moscow Sheremetyevo. We arrived at the Hotel Rossiya in the evening - tired but happy to be in Moscow.
Saturday 14th August
We departed the hotel by minibus at 8.30 am for the journey to Zhukovsky for the aerobatics festival - not knowing what to expect. The weather was absolutely attrocious, with driving rain and low clouds that persisted all day long. As soon as we got off the minibus I spotted that in the small static lineup was the Sukhoi P-42 record breaking version of the Su-27 Flanker, so I was quite excited at the prospect of taking some good close-up photos of this historically important aircraft.
The weather decided otherwise and I was reduced to taking a few
photos from under the cover of an umbrella.
The whole flying display was cancelled - the weather was bad enough
to ground the ducks, never mind the Frecci Tricolori, Patrouille de
France, Russian Knights, Swifts, Team Rus - all the aerobatic teams due
to take part in the display.
We spoke to the Frecci & Patrouille pilots who were also staying
at the Rossiya - and they were all despondent at not being able to fly.
That evening I had to dry my sodden trainers on the hotel heated towel
Sunday 15 August
This was to be the main reason for our visit to Moscow - the Flying Legends airshow.
This was to be the first of a promised annual airshow commemorating
Soviet Union's part in the second world war - known to the Soviets as
the Great Patriotic War.
The display took place on the famous airfield at Monino and
the organisers had invited participation from various warbirds groups
around the world. Unfortunately, quite a few cancelled for various
reasons, but there were some aircraft from the west - including the
B-25 and T-28 sponsored by Red Bull, a scale replica of a Junkers
Ju-87B Stuka from the Ukraine, a Boeing Stearman and various others.
On the Soviet side there were no flying warbirds - but the staff at
Monino had wheeled out their exhibits and placed them in suitably
wartime-looking dispersals - complete with earthworks revetments,
underground bunkers, bomb and fuel dumps etc - all the trappings
of a Soviet wartime airfield.
The weather was intermittent - lots of downpours, with occasional
bright spells in between. The display site was reduced to a sea of mud
and the poor old Russian public - who turned up in their thousands to
see this first-time event - went away soaked and covered in mud, as did
The only flying was restricted to displays by the L-39-equipped Team
Rus, the Swifts in their MiG-29's and the Russian Knights with Su-27's.
The promised 9-ship display by a combined Swifts and Knights team
failed to materialise - probably due to the inclement weather. There
were flying displays by a couple of the visiting sports aircraft - but
none of the warbirds flew.
Monday 16 August
The first visit of the day was to the Moscow Aviation Repair Plant
(MARZ in Russian) at Chornoye, a few miles from the centre of Moscow.
This place repairs Mil Mi-2 helicopters and Antonov An-2 biplanes -
although there was not much activity taking place during our
visit. Our host showed us around and answered our questions and
apologised for the lack of activity - claiming that the staff were on
leave. One intriguing exhibit amongst the 'boneyard' of Mi-2's was the
An-2E Ekranoplan designed by the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) and
displayed at MAKS 03.
From Chornoye, our minibus driver took us to the domestic airport at
Domodedovo for a ramp tour. This airport is now Moscow's main gateway -
rivalling the 'official' airport of Sheremetyevo. The facilities at
Domo far outstrip those at SVO - which looks positively archaic in
Our final destination of the day was the old favourite - the sports
airfield at Myachkovo, not far from Zhukovsky. This place is on the up
- with lots of new facilities offering all sorts of flying activities
and clubhouses for the various organisations operating from there.
During our visit they even had a motor sports practice taking place -
with Formula 3000 racers, motorbikes and sports saloons racing around
the peri track.
One sad site at Myachkovo was the wreckage of the Li-2 that crashed
whilst taking off from there recently - a sad loss to the fledgling
Russian warbirds community.
Tuesday 17 AugustA rather late departure for us - 9am - for the journey to Vnukovo Airport for a ramp tour amongst the arriving and departing aircraft, then back on the minibus for a trip next door to the Vnukovo Repair Plant - Zavod 400. Here we saw a few Tu-154's in various states of repair and were shown around a small museum they have created to celebrate their achievements over the years.
Once again, I would like to extend my thanks to George Pick Travel for making the trip possible and to ‘our man in Moscow’ Oleg for organizing the visit!
If you ever want to go on an aviation visit to Russia – or to any country for that matter – I can recommend George Pick. If you want any travel arrangements made in Russia, then Oleg is your man.
I have no connection to either company, other than being a very satisfied customer.