Ukraine 2010

The majority of the party met up at Gatwick on the Monday morning to travel on the Ukraine International flight PS502 to Kiev which proved very comfortable and flew on schedule. On arrival at Kiev we were faced with a four hour connection time for our onward flight to Odessa, which proved a bit tedious as the airport is not particularly spotter friendly. The onward flight was by Dniproavia Airlines Embrea 145 which was somewhat delayed as the aircraft developed a fault on engine start up and resulted in an aircraft change. We eventually arrived at Odessa at one a.m. local and were glad when we eventually made the hotel.

The next morning, after making contact with our agent, and being joined by three members from The Netherlands the group made an early start to our first arranged visit, the aircraft factory at Odessa airport. This proved to be the highlight of the trip as contracts for the Yemen, Egyptian and Angolan Air forces are all being worked on and we were able to get great photographs of the Mig23s,Mig21US/MFs and Mig21Biss involved. Their premises also contained a number of stored ex Ukraine Airforce Mig 21,23.29s and Let39s which in the perfect weather conditions, made great shots. The afternoon was spent doing a cultural tour of Odessa until it was time to make our way to the airport for our return flight to Kiev.

Tuesday dawned bright with a light overcast and it was off to Borispol for our visit to the Military area. We were met by the Base commander and an English speaking Navigation officer who also proved to be a knowledgeable aircraft enthusiast. We were given free access to the ramp aircraft, a collection of An 24, 26, 30s, Tu134s, and the helicopter element of serviceable and stored Mil 8s. Our request to visit the stored aircraft ramp was also met favourably and our visit was rated highly by the group. The afternoon was filled by a visit to the Great patriotic War Museum which is a large collection of historic military hardware with an aviation section set in a park, overlooked by a large feminine creation (statue), with carved dioramas depicting the resilience of the Russian/Ukrainian people during the 1939/1945 war.

Wednesday and our second military visit, this time the Mig 29 base at Vasikov. We were received in a courteous manner by the base commander and given what proved to be the standard tour, three aircraft on the ramp L 39 Mig 29 and Mig 29U which were duly photographed from every imaginable angle. Despite our requests we were not going to get permission to visit other Mig 29s visible on the far side of the airfield, but instead invited to attend a presentation, of pilot protection and safety equipment and the Mig 29 ejection seat. Leaving the base at midday we travelled to the other side of the town to view a Mig 21PF pole mounted at the Air force Tech. School, and although we couldnít gain entry we found a reasonable position on the perimeter fence to view a number of instructional airframes located in the school grounds.

Returning towards Kiev in the early afternoon it was decided to take in the State Aviation Museum at Zhulyany as the weather was reasonable. The Museum possesses a very comprehensive collection of Russian designed and built military and civil aircraft, many of them restored to a high standard. The highlights for many being the three variants of the Tu 22, Tu 142 Bear F and Yak 28U. So the day ended on a high. Having had two of our prearranged visits cancelled shortly before our departure from the UK., and having already visited the museum, left Friday with a gap in the programme. It was decided that we would try and take in a disused military airfield some 50km south of Kiev where there was said to be stored and preserved aircraft, Bila Cierkva . Another Mig 21 PF was found in the town and the one time air force base was located. The living accommodation has been turned over to civilian use, and about a mile into the complex we came across an example of a well preserved Tu 16 displayed in take off position. Proceeding further we reached the perimeter of the airfield proper and an out of use Il 76. The stored aircraft were also located in a fenced off compound and comprised of some forty odd airframes, a mixture of Su 24s, Mig 23s,Mig 29s, and Let 39s which well pleased a number of the group.

Setting off back to Kiev we passed a newly constructed heliport with an Mi 8 and Ec 145 on the ramp and then on to a light field in the city suburbs Chaika, to please those with a civil interest. The usual collection of soviet types were present An 2s, Let 410s, Mi 2, Wilgas, Yak55, some with DOSAF origins.

Aviasvit XXI Salon at Antonovís Gostemol airfield was our venue for Saturday which proved somewhat of disappointment for some of the group as the military failed to take part as in previous years. The An 225 had departed a couple of days earlier on contract work and its flying demonstration was taken over by an An 124. Other flying items were performed by Let 29 and Let 39 teams and SU 27 597 gave its usual spectacular display. Another impressive display was given by six gliders towed to altitude by a single An 2, in tandem, which when released gave a well executed formation display lasting about ten minutes. Sunday had also been given over to the Salon but half the group elected to return to the museum for the day in the hope of finding more of interest.

Monday was an early start for the airport to catch our Ukraine International fight back to Gatwick.

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