Moscow Visit – 2009

For this visit to Moscow, I went with George Pick Aerotours

Wenesday 19 August

09:30 departure from Heathrow’s Terminal 1 on British Midland flight BD 891 for Moscow Domodedovo. On arrival in Moscow we were met by our lovely escort, Natalia and coach driver Vassily and taken on a 3-hour drive across a very busy Moscow to the Cosmos Hotel.

Thursday 20 August - VARZ, Sparrow Hills, Victory Park & Novodevichy Cemetery

At least that what was on the official itinery - but having seen the first three places on previous visits, Jon & I 'bunked off' and visited most of Moscow's Model Shops for some retail therapy - before joining up with the rest of the groups at the famous Novodevichy Cementery - last resting place of Russia's Great and Good.

Set in leafy parkland, the cemetery is home to the graves of politicians, artists, luminaries from Soviet times - and our main interest, Soviet aircraft designers and Cosmonauts.

We were shown round by a very knowledgable lady guide and, with Natalia translating, we had a very enjoyable tour round the cemetery.

On our way back to the Cosmos hotel, the coach stopped near the old Olympic Stadium - so the rest of the group could visit the Club-TM model shop.


Friday 21 August - MAKS

The first of two planned visits to Zhukovsky for the MAKS airshow, so an early start from the Cosmos Hotel.

We arrived in good time and after some delay at the security checkpoint - where every person had their cameras thoroughly examined- we arrived on the Zhukovsky ramp.

Unlike in previous years, the ramp was a bit deserted - as witnessed by the fact that the security access was actually some way down the ramp, rather than at the site entrance.

The weather wasn't conducive to good photography either - with low cloud and blustery winds - but I did the best I could.

I have since discovered that quite a few exhibits were removed from the static display by the time we got there on Friday - so we missed them.

Such gems as the Antonov An-70 and An-148-100V in 'Rossia' colours, the M-55 'Geophysika' and a couple of new light aircraft.

One interesting participant on the flightline though was the enormous Cock - the mighty Antonov An-22 'Antei', recently spruced up with a fresh coat of camouflage paint.

The 4th TsBP i PLS - Aircrew Training Centre at Lipetsk provided no less than six of their aircraft to pad out an otherwise thin static lineup.


Saturday 22 August - In and around Mowcow

A lie in bed and a leisurely breakfast before boarding the minibus for a short trip to Rizhskaya Railway station for a short visit to the railway museum.

This was a 'filler' on our itinery, but it turned out to be a great little trip. I'm not 'into' railways, but I do like all things mechanical, so it was very enjoyable - the railway buffs amongst our party were over the moon.

From there we went to the Central Armed Forces Museum, followed by the journey across town to the excellent Vadim Zadorozhny Technical Museum - where there were a few new exhibits - including a newly restored Hawker Hurricane.

After Zadorozhny, we travelled to the banks of the Moskva river to see the A-90 'Orlyonok' ekranoplan and finally a quick call in to Red Square for the touristy bit.


Sunday 23 August - MAKS.

Another early start for a return to Zhuukovsky.

We got through security even quicker this time - but the weather was miserable with drizzling rain, so we spent the first 2 hours in the beer tent waiting for it to clear.

A walk round the exhibition halls was followed by session of photography - as best I could given the lighting conditions.

The whole day was rather sombre - with poor weather and nothing very exciting to see - this wasn't the best MAKS I have ever attended.


Monday 24 August - Ledovo-Dolgoye, Chkalovskiy, Monino & Chernoye.

First port of call was a visit to the small aircraft collection near Dolgoye-Ledovo, belonging to the Moscow Engineering Institute - not MAI as we had previously thought..

From Ledovo we travelled to the Russian AF Base at Chkalovskaya,

We were only allowed to visit the transport ramp area - and were strictly forbidden from pointing our cameras towards the Il-82 communications aircraft and Il-86 'Maxdomes'.

We did have more access this year - we were allowed to photograph the resident Il-76's as well as the Il-62's on the way out.

From Chkalovskiy it was a short hop to the fabulous collection at Monino - where, despite taking zillions of photos on previous visits, I still managed to shoot of a few hundreds more.

From Monino, we travelled to the Moscow Aviation Repair Plant (MARZ) at Chornoye.

This small factory is still doing a brisk trade in refurbishing An-2 biplanes and Mi-2 helicopters.

By this time the heavens had opened, so we visited the hanger to see the fabric and paint shops before photographing the immaculate An-2s awaiting delivery.

One interesting item that caught my eye was a stripped-down Mi-1 helicopter. Our guide informed us that it was being restored to flying condition as an 'advert' for the factory.

Our final destination was a drive into Moscow to visit the newly re-located Moscow Model Club.


Tuesday 25 August - Ramp tour of Domodedovo & Flight Home.

Our bags are packed and we check out of the Cosmos hotel for the trip to Domodedovo - our departure airport - where we have a scheduled 3-hour ramp tour.

Having deposited our bags in left luggage, we were met by the gorgeous Alexandra (Sasha) who handed out our security passes before we were checked through security.

Once airside, we boarded the passenger transit coach - which took us around the ramp and deposited us on a new ramp area next to the landing runway.

From there we went over to a great little spot on the takeoff side - where we were given free reign as long as we observed the limits.

After eating our packed lunches, we made our way to the 'graveyard' to photograph the Il-62's - before going back to our starting point to watch some more landings.

Sasha and her companion were great - giving us total freedom to photograph what we wanted. We behaved ourselves and the security was very low key.

When our time was up, we went back on the coach, through security, handed our passes back and said goodbye to security boss Sasha & to our Moscow guide for the week Natasha - before checking in for our flight home.


Ken Duffey

August 2009