Moscow and Beijing
Visit – 2013
For this visit to Moscow and Beijing, I went with BAES and George Pick Aerotours
I had an additional two days over the planned visit - and joined the main group when they arrived on Thursday.
A 1325 departure from Heathrow’s Terminal 4 on Aeroflot flight SU2579 flight
for Moscow Sheremetyevo - the first time I had been there for years.. On arrival in
I had been invited on a private visit to the Zvezda model factory - so I met up with Hungarian friend Gabor and we travelled by metro and train to Sheremetyevo's terminal E - where we were met by Director of Marketing Evgeny Kurbatov and driven to Lobnya, home base of Zvezda.
We spent a very enjoyable few hours at the factory - being shown around the design department, with their very hi-tech CAD computers, before being taken to the injection moulding floor to see the new moulding machines being installed.
After being shown the warehouse of racks containing rows of heavy casting blocks, we watched as new moulds were being prepared for insertion into the moulding machines.
We visited the packing department and were invited into the 'trophy' room displaying the many certificates and medals awarded to the company for their models.
After being given some gifts of kits from Disney's 'Planes' film, we thanked our hosts and were very kindly driven back into Moscow by Evgeny.
It was a very interesting visit and I would like to thank the Director and staff for allowing us to visit, Evgeny for showing us round and Alexander, the CAD designer of the soon-to-be-released Su-27SM kit for arranging the visit.
In the evening Gabor and I met up with our Russian friends from Rostov-on-Don - and visited the Aviator restaurant for a few beers.
I met Andrei, Igor and Nikolai again - and we travelled to MAKS by train and bus.
The weather was good for photography and I did most of the static lineup.
We travelled back into Moscow and I said my farewells before taking the metro back to the Cosmos for an evening meal.
The main BAES group did not arrive at the hotel until 10:15pm so I met our guide Natalia and the guys - and we had a few beers before retiring for the night.
An early start for the journey to Zhukovsky - arriving at the VIP car park before passing through security and walking down the long static display.
The weather was OK during the morning, but had deteriorated by early afternoon - just when the flying started - so we spent most of the afternoon in the beer tent!
First port of call was the Central Armed Forces Museum, then on to Park Pobed (Victory Park), followed by the long journey north to the Vadim Zadorozhny Museum, taking in the A-90 ekranoplan on the banks of the Moscow river at Khimki.
Some of the newcomers wanted to visit Red Square, so we travelled back into central Moscow - but unfortunately the Square was closed off for rehearsals for a parade, so Natalia took us into the GUM department store out of the pouring rain.
This day was going to be one of the highlights of the trip - photographing the aircraft displays from the south side - outside the airfield on the riverbank with the sun behind us.
But mother nature had other ideas - and the weather was aweful, with drizzling rain interspersed with downpours and low cloud - the worst conditions for photography.
We found our spot and parked up - but the mood was sombre and subdued. We made friends with the locals and did the best we could under the circumstances.
There was a 'rival' team of enthusiasts on a boat on the river - but due to their berth by the opposite riverbank, I doubt if they had any better luck with their shots than we did.
The following photos are heavily manipulated in Paint Shop Pro...........
Just to be perverse, Monday dawned bright - with a few low clouds that cleared up early on.
As we had a late start, we had time for a leisurely breakfast before taking a stroll across the road into VDNK Park and spent a pleasant hour photographing some of the ornate buildings and statues - who said we had no culture?
First real port-of-call was to the Russian Air Force Museum at Monino - where I photographed the displays for about the 30th time.
There is always something new to see - freshly repainted exhibits and new arrivals.
From Monino, we travelled to Sheremetyevo airport - where we said farewell to Natalia and our driver before the long wait for our 22.25 overnight Aeroflot flight to Beijing.
After a sleepless flight (at least for me), we arrived in Bejing in the early hours, met our Chinese guide and were taken directly to the Civil Aviation Museum - to see the recently opened main building and airframes on display outside.
Next was the Military Museum of the Chinese Peoples Revolution - which was closed for maintenance and refurbishment. Fortunately for us, the main exhibits were on display outside under cover of temporary 'sheds' - although photography was not too easy due to the shadows - and crowds!
We finally arrived at our hotel - but no time to rest as we visited our local Chinese restaurant for a well-earned meal and a few beers - before crashing out after our 2-day non-stop, sleepless travels.
Today was to be a 'tourist' day, so after a leisurely breakfast we boarded our minibus for the long drive to the Great Wall, where we had a group photo taken - before dispersing to do our own thing at this magnificent cultural icon.
After exhausting ourselves at the Wall, we drove to a jade factory - where we made a few purchases and had a superb lunch - before driving back into Beijing to visit the Summer Palace.
Final visit of the day was to the Olympic Park - to stroll along the long boulevard taking photos of the iconic Birds Nest stadium.
Back to the hotel for a change of clothes - before another excellent Chinese meal and a few beers before retiring.
First port of call was to the newly opened building housing the magnificent collection of the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics museum.
Apart from the usual collection of Soviet and Chinese airframes, the University boasts a couple of gems - a Northrop P-61 Black Widow night fighter and a P-47 Thunderbolt - as well as a ex-RAF Harrier GR.3 and an example of the Beijing-1 that was designed at the university.
After lunch at another Chinese restaurant, it was on to Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City for more culture - before returning to the hotel.
We found a small 'local' restaurant where we amused the staff with our attempts at ordering a meal for seven with lashings of beer.
The highlight of the trip - a visit to the magnificent collection of over 300 airframes on display - both outside in the hot sunshine, or inside the bright new display hall and the rather less photogenic 'cavern'.
We spent a full day there - taking lunch in a small local cafe just outside the main gate.
Thanks to the efforts of Alan, our group leader and our Chinese guide, we were permitted to visit the off-limits restoration building - where we photographed the resident Spitfire XVIe as well as some of the other airframes.
An exhausted, but happy, band of travellers were then taken to a restauarant near Beijing aiport for our 'last supper' - before the long wait for our overnight flight back to the UK - with a long stopover at Moscow's Sheremetyevo - before arriving at Heathrow at noon on Saturday, dog tired, but very happy.
All in all it was a terrific trip - great airshow andmuseums, good accomodation, excellent company and well worth the money.
I must stress, this is a purely personal account of the trip - I have no commercial connection with BAES or George Pick - I'm just a very satisfied customer.