I arrived late in the evening into Havana and despite how jet lagged I felt I hoped to have a wander around and go to a couple of bars. Unfortunately, I fell asleep as soon as I got to my room and after just a few hours it was time to get up, head to the airport and take a Cubana flight to Santo Domingo (SDQ) in order to reach New York for my flight home. When I booked my Cubana flights I chose CCS-HAV for a flight aboard the IL-62 and as it happened the HAV-SDQ flight was also scheduled to be an IL-62. I was certainly not going to complain at the chance to take two IL-62 flights in the same trip but as you will know if you read my previous report, the CCS-HAV sector was equipment swapped for an IL-96. It was great to have unexpectedly added the IL-96 to my log but I was hoping the same would not happen again on today’s flight.
I arrived at the international terminal about three hours before departure but check-in had not yet opened for Santo Domingo. A queue had already formed but it was not too long so I stood in line and it was not long before the desk was opened.
Cubana check-in area
I asked for a window seat near the back and also asked the young man checking me in if the aircraft was an IL-62. He said yes and checked me in. The seat I was given was not near the back but maybe he did not understand what I had said. I decided I would check on board and move towards the rear if any seats were available later.
After checking in I decided to grab a bite to eat with my last remaining convertible Pesos and bought a ham and cheese sandwich and a can of Sprite at the café area near the check-in. From the window at the side of the terminal I could see an IL-62 which now looked more like a bar, complete with canopy above the door. It was sad to see the aircraft in this condition but at the same time nice to know that examples were still in daily use by Cubana.
I then headed through immigration and into the international departure lounge which I imagine must get quite crowded when there are several foreign airlines in at the same time. This morning however it was very quiet and the Santo Domingo flight seemed to be the only one departing in the next couple of hours. The ceiling of the terminal has many flags draped from it - with a certain obvious country not represented. I was disappointed not to be able to see a Union Jack among the flags initially but if I remember correctly I found one eventually!
One good thing about the departures area is that good views are available of the ramp in all directions, although photograph opportunities are limited by the arrivals corridor around the outside.
As I waited a Cubana IL-96 arrived and I watched it taxi onto its parking stand. It seemed quite noisy from where I stood but I knew from my flight the previous day that from a passenger’s point of view the IL-96 is relatively quiet. The aircraft was CU-T1251 and as it arrived sister ship CU-T1254 was just getting airborne. This was the aircraft on which I had flown from CCS the previous evening.
Despite the dirty windows there was a wonderful view outside one of the gates in particular – the IL-62 operating my flight being serviced in readiness for departure. It is easy in this situation to look out of the window and imagine it is thirty years earlier in a different part of the world. I felt privileged to be about to take a flight on this gorgeous machine.
After just over an hour in the departure lounge boarding was called and after waiting for the initial crowd to board I headed to the gate. It would have been better for photographs had the aircraft been parked on a remote stand but I was certainly not complaining as I aimed my camera through the dirty window at the head of the airbridge.
After passing through the business class section I took my seat three rows into economy which also happened to be one of the overwing exit rows just aft of the leading edge.
IL-96 CU-T1251 which I had watched arriving earlier was now being serviced on the adjacent stand.
About thirty minutes after I had boarded pushback commenced and the engines were started. I have flown on many different aircraft types but I don’t think I have ever heard sounds like these four Soloviev D-30KU engines starting.
The aircraft taxied quite quickly to runway 06 for departure.
Take-off from HAV
It was a perfect day for flying and it was nice and clear for photographs as we climbed out of Havana and out over Cuba.
About forty-five minutes into the flight the breakfast service commenced and passengers were served with ham, cheese, vegetables and a bread roll. It was certainly not extravagant but enough to make a ham and cheese sandwich with a little left over. Other passengers got a small pot of fruit too but this was missing from my tray – not being into fruit I did not particularly mind.
After breakfast I just sat with my face glued to the window, appreciating every moment aboard this classic aircraft, particularly on such a fine day. I could not have picked a better part of the world to fly aboard the IL-62 in this respect.
One thing I noticed on the IL-62 which I had never seen on any other aircraft was the transparent window blinds which block out the sun but still allow you to see where you are.
Cabin and window view
Around ninety minutes into the flight it was time to begin our descent towards Santo Domingo. The sky was pretty clear during the descent with the exception of a few light clouds.
The landscape of the Dominican Republic did not appear much different to that of Cuba, with farms and green fields making up most of the view below as we neared our destination.
The landing in SDQ was quite smooth and was met with the applause of some passengers – something I was starting to guess is common with passengers from this part of the world. Personally I do not like it as I think it is patronising to the crew but I guess I do not speak for everyone. The landing was quite smooth and the engines very loud in reverse – just the way I like it, of course.
Landing at SDQ
As the aircraft taxied past the maintenance area I could see the tails of a couple of nice relics in the form of a Dominicana B707 and an unidentifiable B727.
When the aircraft turned towards the main apron a better view was afforded of the maintenance area revealing even more relics of the past including a Lockheed Constellation, Douglas DC-3, Curtis C46 Commando, what appeared to be a Convair or Martin propliner of some sort and a Douglas DC-6 or 7. I believe the Constellation is being restored for a return to service but any information on the other classics at SDQ would be appreciated.
There were another couple of aircraft present at the terminal as we approached our gate - an Aserca DC-9-30 and Continental Airlines B757-300.
Arrival & Engine shut down
As soon as the aircraft was on stand the usual scramble to get up ensued but I waited until the end so I could bag myself an IL-62 safety card and take a photograph of the cabin before leaving.
After leaving the aircraft I stopped on the airbridge which had much cleaner windows than the on in HAV and took a quick photograph of the front of the aircraft.
As I made my way along the arrivals corridor at ground level I decided to stop again, as this was the only opportunity I had to take a photo which would include a full view of the aircraft. Also, I had not yet noted the registration of the aircraft which turned out to be CU-T1280. The aircraft looked great from this viewpoint and appeared to be very clean.
I then headed to immigration and to the American Airlines check-in for my onward flight to JFK.
The experience of flying aboard an Ilyushin IL-62M was absolutely superb and ranks up there with my B707 flight in Iran back in January. I would like to visit Cuba in the future and spend some time there, in addition to flying some of the other aircraft types in service in Cuba such as the An-24, An-26, Yak-42 and if it is still in service with Aerocaribbean, the IL-18.
A look at the history of the aircraft revealed that it was believed to have been delivered in March 1988, suggesting it is not a particularly old example. The most interesting information I found is that it is believed to have been used for some time as Fidel Castro’s personal aircraft. If anyone can back this up in any way I would be most interested.
KHI747 From United States of America, joined Oct 2000, 1619 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 13 hours ago) and read 29213 times:
Good work mate! Another very interesting TR from you.
Its even more interesting for me since i have flown this aircraft on this exact airline back in 2003 when i went to Havana,with friends,for spring break.We drove from Boston to Montreal from where we flew Cubana on a IL62,routing was YUL-Varadero-HAV.
The atmosphere in the plane,upon boarding in YUL,was unlike anything i have experienced.It was so festive that it appeared like a carnival inside.Even the FA's were'nt too bothered about seat belts if i recall correctly.Even though it was bitterly cold in YUL that day (around -10 or -15C),the soviet heaters in the plane were so powerful that i literally requested the FA to put the heat down during before take off.......must have been close to 35C inside the cabin.
I will have to dig up my pics from the trip but i have a feeling this plane has been somewhat refreshed from back then.I recall that the cabin walls (around the sides of the plane) were greenish and maybe even the seats were that colour.But one thing i cant forget from the IL62 was the fact that the seat infront of you could be pushed from behind and it would just fold down (provided no one is sitting on it obviously)...was this the case when you flew too?
Semsem From Israel, joined Jul 2005, 1779 posts, RR: 3
Reply 6, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 1 day 12 hours ago) and read 29142 times:
The IL 62 looks like close to a copy of the VC-10. Wonderful fascinating report. What is the flight time between Havana and Santo Domingo? I would have guessed 45 minutes and it must be longer as you got your meal after 45 minutes. How are the crew?
Edina From United Kingdom, joined Jul 2003, 764 posts, RR: 9
Reply 9, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 19 hours ago) and read 28647 times:
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): One thing I noticed on the IL-62 which I had never seen on any other aircraft was the transparent window blinds which block out the sun but still allow you to see where you are.
Interesting........one thing the IL62 has in common with the Dassault Mercure
Worked on - Caravelle Mercure A300 A320 F27 SD3-60 BAe146 747-100/200/400 DC10-30 767 777 737-400 757 A319 A321
Aleksandar From Serbia, joined Jul 2000, 3241 posts, RR: 31
Reply 10, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 16 hours ago) and read 28535 times:
I enjoyed in all three TRs you wrote, but somehow, this one is a bit special. For no reason at all, it reminded me of numerous brochures I took as a teenager from Interflug and CSA offices in Belgrade as a teenager. They all had so many photos of IL-62 and looking at photos that you posted, memories came back. BTW, did you liberate that safety card?
Palmjet From United Kingdom, joined Nov 2001, 1240 posts, RR: 15
Reply 11, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 14 hours ago) and read 28465 times:
Fantastic trip report - I've been waiting for this one for so long ...ever since you mentioned a few months back that you'd done an IL62 flight on Cubana. Great pics and vids to accompany your report. Thanks again!
Trintocan From United Kingdom, joined Apr 2000, 3278 posts, RR: 4
Reply 12, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 12 hours ago) and read 28398 times:
Thanks UK Dispatcher, this report was great! I have seen the CU IL62 on occasion (including once in POS) but never heard it in action - those Solovievs are LOUD! I loved all those pictures. Yes, the Caribbean does have some interesting airlines and airliners and CU maintains that air of exoticism about it with its Russian jetliners. Thanks again and keep up the great work.
Antskip From Australia, joined Jan 2006, 944 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (7 years 11 months 1 week 11 hours ago) and read 28349 times:
Thank you UK Dispatcher for three of the most amazing reports ever! You really are very kind! I love the shots of the wing of the IL-62M -reminded me of the elegant wings of the Comet 4, and the beautiful slender fuselage did too (I do understand it is more like the VC10, though!). It is just awesome to get reports from some of the "black holes" (not intended to be a negative!) of the world and its aircraft!
BA319-131 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2001, 8699 posts, RR: 54
Reply 14, posted (7 years 11 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 28067 times:
Another great TR!! - Many thanks indeed.
I love the shape of the 62, reminds me of the VC-10, one of, if not the most elegant plane ever produced - Concorde excepted.
The engine noise sounds fantastic, loved the engine start, so loud, excellent.
What was the load like on this sector?
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): A look at the history of the aircraft revealed that it was believed to have been delivered in March 1988, suggesting it is not a particularly old example.
- It's funny, I think we all presume aircraft like the 62 & 154 are really old,when in fact many are quite newish.
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): Please look out for my next reports which will include:
- Indian Airlines, Airbus A320, TRV-TRZ-MAA;
- Alliance Air, Boeing 737-200, MAA-VTZ-MAA;
- Indian Airlines, Airbus A300B4, MAA-BOM
SR 103 From United States of America, joined Sep 2000, 1743 posts, RR: 37
Reply 15, posted (7 years 11 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 28049 times:
Thank you for a great set of trip reports from some not so common aircraft. I don't think I will ever be as lucky as you to experience these amazing machines. I can't wait for the upcoming Indian Airlines reports, especially the A300 one.
Contact Air From Germany, joined Apr 2001, 1154 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (7 years 11 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 28040 times:
very interesting and detailed report and fantastic pictures. I enjoyed reading and watching a lot.
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): I would like to visit Cuba in the future and spend some time there, in addition to flying some of the other aircraft types in service in Cuba such as the An-24, An-26, Yak-42 and if it is still in service with Aerocaribbean, the IL-18.
Yes, Cuba appears to be a great place for aviation enthusiasts. Lots of rare aircraft types and obviously no problem to take pictures.
Quoting UK_Dispatcher (Thread starter): A look at the history of the aircraft revealed that it was believed to have been delivered in March 1988
That's amazing. In the same year the first A 320 aircraft were delivered to AF and BA. But the Il 62 seems to be from a completely different age.
Sfomb67 From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 417 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (7 years 10 months 3 weeks 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 26782 times:
How lucky you are to be able to fly on these great old aircraft, when most of us in the US are not even able to view them anymore. I remember working the hanger at LAX back in the 70's, and seeing the IL-62 (probably an Aeroflot) taking off. Undoubtedly, the loudest engines!