Ukraine Visit – 2010
For this visit to Kiev, I went with the British Aviation Enthusiasts Society , their Tour Report is here .
11:30 departure from Gatwick Airport on Ukraine International flight PS502 for Kiev Borispol. On arrival in
Unfortunately, they shut down again and after 30 minutes we were told to disembark as the aircraft was unservicable. After a two hour wait in the terminal we boarded our replacement RJ145 for the 70-minute flight - arriving at our hotel in Odessa long after midnight and totally shattered. Not too tired though to have a quick beer in the hotel bar before retiring for the night.
A bright sunny day in Odessa saw us boarding our coach for a visit to the Odesaviaremservice (Odessa Aviation Repair Service) - a repair facility specialising
in the overhaul and repair of MiG-21 and MiG-23 aircraft and engines.
Our host allowed us to photograph most things - and even pulled a few airframes out onto the ramp and removed the covers in order to give us better photographic access. Having exhausted all the aviation photo opportunities, our lady guide was keen to show us around the sights of her beautiful city before our 19:15 departure back to Kiev - which was incidentally by the same RJ145 that had gone unserviceable in Kiev the night before!
Our first visit of the day was to the 15th Aviation Transport Brigade on the military side of Borispol airport. We were met by the station commander and a navigation officer who spoke perfect English and was an aviation writer and keen modeller.
We had free access to the operational ramp with its An-30, An-26, Tu-134 & Mi-8's- plus, at our request, freedom to roam the stored aircraft area photographing the airframes there. The gesture was very much appreciated by the group.
The afternoon saw us visiting the Great Patriotic War Museum in the centre of Kiev. The small display of aircraft are all painted the same ficticious colour, but there was an opportunity to photograph the cockpit of the MiG-23 for a small fee.
We also pleaded with one of the caretakers to be allowed to climb up the fenced-off ramparts - so we could look down on the collection. He finally acceded to our request - so we got some good 'overhead' photos.
A late packed lunch was enjoyed in a park by the Dnieper river - and on the way back to the hotel we stopped to photograph a large steam loco on display at a railway station.
The planned itinery today involved a long 25-mile drive to the MiG-29 base at Vasilkov - where we were met by the base commander and his entourage.
Three airframes were on display for us to photograph - and we were given free access, including the cockpits. Our request to visit the 'operational' side was politely refused, but we were shown a display of the aircrafts ejection seat and survival gear.
We left the base at noon - and the spotters in the group directed us to a local Air Force Technical School, where I photographed a MiG-21PF on a pole, while the more adventurous climbed the external fence to see the instructional airframes inside the school.
With the planned itinery completed it was decided, after some debate, to take the opportunity to visit the State Aviation Museum, back in Kiev.
This is a superb museum, with a collection of over 70 airframes, including all three variants of the Tupolev Backfire bomber.
With the planned visit to the MiG-29 base at Ozernoye cancelled, we were left with a free day - so a decision was made to drive to the town of Bila Tservka, 50km south of Kiev where there was a collection of stored airframes.
Arriving at the outskirts of the town, we stopped the coach to photograph the obligatory MiG on a pole.
The former Soviet base was located and its Tu-16 memorial display was duly photographed. Despite pleading with the resident caretakers, we were not allowed into the compound where there were about 40 airframes in various states.
Not to be denied, I photographed what I could - the more persistent members of the group forayed into the undergrowth around the perimeter to get that 'one more shot' - perhaps an unfortunate use of the word 'shot' !!!!
Driving back to Kiev, we passed a newly constructed heliport - with an EC-145 and Mi-8 on the ramp - so the coach was stopped to take the obligatory photos.
With a free afternoon ahead, the group decided to visit the sports airfield at Chaika on the southern outskirts of Kiev.
We were met by the English-speaking Chief Pilot and shown around the airfield and given free access to all the resident aircraft - An-2, Yak-52, Mi-8s etc.
The first of two planned days at the Aviasvit XXI Salon at Gostomel airport.
This turned out to be a bit of a disappointment as there was no military presence and the resident An-225 'Mriya' was away earning revenue. The weather was also cold and overcast and I had contracted a tummy bug, so was extra miserable having to stay close to the less-than-hygenic toilet facilities.
I met up with some Ukrainian colleagues inside the display hangar, so did not see most of the flying display - but I photographed what I could......
A second day at the airshow was planned, but the group split into two - some going back to the show, the rest of us electing to take a taxi from the hotel back to the State Aviation Museum at Zhulaniy.
We were blessed with better weather, so I took the opportunity to do a complete, leisurely walkround of all the airframes on display - most enjoyable.