In the months leading up to the actual celebrations of 100 years of Russian military aviation, there was some confusion about the way it would actually be celebrated. Information about the event (location, access to it not, etc. etc.) changed rapidly, making the preparations somewhat of a headache.
Nevertheless, a large group and enthusiastic group gathered on Thursday 9 August to fly to Moscow. No less than three separate flights were needed to bring everyone to Russia. Late Thursday night everyone was regrouped in our hotel in Moscow. This was also the case for the guests that flew in on their own (the group included 10 different nationalities). All in all, more than 70 participants showed up.
10 August 2012
Despite the late arrival, we had to get up early again on Friday (10 August). While a small part of the group opted to go to Zhukovsky that day already, two buses headed out to Monino, the large aviation museum outside Moscow. This place is a must-see for every military aviation enthusiast! A lot of prototypes of current fighters (like the Su-27, MiG-29), but also fighters and bombers of which only one or two examples were built during the Cold War. Many pictures were made this morning, and the weather was playing ball as well! Much to our delight we saw fighters taking off from close-by Chkalovsky, in order to practice their fly-by at Zhukovsky. Su-27s, MiG-29s and Su-25s took to the sky to form a “100” over Zhukovsky as the start of the flying program. We also saw the aircraft land, resulting in some nice pictures.
After finishing, we set out to the “Central Armed Forces Museum” in Moscow. Besides a large collection of military objects, this museum also has quite a large collection of aircraft in the backyard. Inside one of the buildings, one of the many highlights here are the remains of the U-2 of Gary Powers, shot down in 1960. Last stop of the day was the aircraft collection at Khodinka. Once a very beautiful museum, now just a collection of old metal. Graffiti, destruction; it really hurts to see these aircraft been treated this way. The day was ended with a cold beer in the hotel!
11 August 2012
An early rise again on Saturday 11 August, as were planning to beat the traffic jams towards Zhukovsky. Our Russian contact already had planned a good spot outside Zhukovsky to watch the aircraft, as this day the base was inaccessible due to the planned visit of President Putin to Zhukovsky. With the information gathered on Friday by some people, we somewhat knew what to expect. The show started with the aforementioned “100”, followed by fly-pasts of, amongst others, 3 Tu-95s, 3 Tu-160s, MiG-29s, Su-27 etc. Due to a very late arrival of Putin, and big thunderstorm the program was unfortunately altered quite a lot. Nevertheless, it was great to see so many Russian hardware in the sky!
12 August 2012
On Sunday (12 August), the base was accessible for people holding a ticket. We were treated to a static of many different types, and a remarkably large and very tight flying program. Although it is virtually impossible to name highlights, some would say the demonstrations of the Su-35, Su-34 and MiG-31 were amongst them. The weather was perfect today, adding to an already great day. The Russians managed to entertain everybody the entire day with large numbers of aircraft. Tired, but satisfied, we reached the hotel late at night.
13 August 2012
On Monday 13 August it was time to say goodbye. Everybody went home, again via different routes, still thinking about THE air show of the year!
Could not have asked for more on my tour. Everyone was friendly and helpful. We were also driven to the best possible locations for photography. I shall look forward to more tours with yourselves in the future. Many thanks again.