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A Russian Dream Come True Pt 1; Yak 40 LED-CEE  
User currently offlineTupolevTu154 From Germany, joined Aug 2004, 2186 posts, RR: 28
Posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9394 times:

Ever since I was a kid, (not that long ago, I suppose!) I have had a fascination for Russian aircraft. Specifically the Tupolev Tu-154 (hence my username). The HF antenna on top of the tail was always a point I especially loved about Soviet era aircraft, like a dagger following behind most of the aircraft. This was true for most Tupolevs and Illyushins that I was aware of at the time. I have extremely fond memories of being on a farm on the approach to LGW's 08 and watching 3 Tu154's land in one day. As I grew up not only did I simply want to see these aircraft, I wanted to photograph them. Then that eventually turned into me wanting to travel aboard them. For years that's been high up on my bucket list, but various factors stopped me. I only really started doing day trips on aircraft for fun at around 15, and that was too young to go away to a totally different country for several days on my own. Cost was also a factor, I was only working part time between school and college and my measly £150 a month pay packet wouldn't get me very far. Finally several years later I get myself a career in flying, some disposable income and the final push to give me the motivation to do this; an article in airliner world mentioning how Russian classics could be a thing of the past as soon as January 2012.

I found out that Rossiya were using An148's to LGW from LED, and was instantly attracted to the idea. However getting into Russia would prove far more time consuming and costly as I had first thought (rather naively). I scrapped that idea and, just at the right time, a good friend told me he'd had to cancel a trip to Russia in September, but was still interested in going before the end of the year. Two days later I had my first flights booked. And so a trip was born!

Several different plans went through the pipeline but unfortunately schedules change, airlines go bust, and “unforeseeable circumstances” arise. It seems pretty much every Tu-154 is either now stored or damn near impossible to fly on. KMV sadly ceased operating, as did countless other 154 operators. Literally two months of booking flights, cancelling flights, tweaking times and dates, itineraries etc later, we had a fairly solid plan. The day before we were due to go. A considerable cost had already built up from having to cancel flights that were originally meant to be soviet aircraft, but had been changed to western equipment. A long story short, we finally got an itinerary that would work perfectly if everything went to plan. It is as follows;

Day 1: LHR-LED BA A320
Day 2: LED-GOJ UT T134
Day 3: GOJ-LED UT T134
Day 4: LED-CEE-LED D2 Y40
Day 5: LED-DME UN 735, DME-KRR-DME 6R T154, DME-LHR BA 763

This would leave me with 5 new airports, 4 new airlines, and 4 new aircraft, 3 of which are Russian built. Excellent!

In this report I'll cover the LED (St Petersburg) - CEE (Cherepovets) flight with Servestal, on a Yak 40. I'll do another report as soon as I can on the DME-KRR-DME flight on an Alrosa Tupolev 154.

How did I find this flight, do you ask? Well, I've seen trip reports on this airline and route before. It was certainly very easy to do, with two daily flights between St Petersburg and Cherepovets, on a Yak 40, and with online booking easily doable, at the absolute bargain price of £70 return. So, without further ado, here's the stuff you want to read about.

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At around 0800L, myself and my good friend and fellow airliners.net photographer, D Chapman, arrived at St Petersburg's Pulkovo 1. We'd already been through this terminal twice, and I can honestly say it is one of the worst terminals I have had the misfortune of using. Apparently built in the 1950's, it's clear to see that it may have been perfectly adequate back then but 61 years of changes in the aviation industry have certainly taken its toll. No clear sineage, hidden staircases, hidden check in areas, woefully confusing security. Absolutely none of it has any logic. For example, security to go airside. If you want a basket to put your shoes/ bags in, you have to push in front of everybody queueing to walk through the metal detector to get one, then walk back against people entering the security area to sort yourself out, then once through you're fighting your way through more people. Then if they want to search your bag they don't make it clear, so they end up running after you shouting as you're walking out. It took us a good 15 minutes to figure out how to exit the terminal in the first place after getting something to eat. All doors are locked except one downstairs next to arrivals. Unfortunately this terminal and airport was our base for four days. I'd also like to point out that it's probably us being stupid westerners, and we did eventually get the hang of it.

Anyway, check in for our flight was in some obscure corner of the terminal we never realised existed. (Think IKEA. You take a simple short cut but you end up in a completely different decade, you walk back through the same short cut but end up in a totally different place to what was there 30 seconds before)We had to wait for the desk to open, and in this time we mused about which aircraft might operate our flight. My fingers were crossed for the blue coloured ex Yamal example, RA-88188. Once open, check in was extremely efficient, with the desk only being opened around an hour (?) before the flight, and the whole process taking mere seconds. I was given seat 5A, and we were then directed through security (the door to which had just been locked, so we had to go through some magical portal to end up where we wanted to be) which ended up fairly simple compared to the example given above. Seeking comfort, I bought a chocolate muffin and cup of tea from a nearby Costa (Damn, the Russians know how to make tea!) which definitely made me feel human again at what was actually a reasonable time of the morning. (The sun doesn't rise in St Pete until 10am). Whilst tucking into my heavenly tea and muffin our bird for the day taxied past the window, and much to my enjoyment, turned out to be ex Yamal example, RA-88188. It was fantastic seeing our aircraft screech past at night, all lights going, in the floodlights.


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Photo © Aleksey Lisitsyn



Date: 15 November 2011
Airline: Servestal Air company
Aircraft: Yakovlev Yak 40
Registration: RA-88188
Flight number: D220
Route: St Petersburg Pulkovo 1 (LED) – Cherepovets (CEE)
Scheduled time of departure: 0930
Actual time of departure: 0930
Scheduled time of arrival: 1040
Actual time of arrival: 1040 (How's THAT for on time performance?!)

Shortly thereafter boarding was called and we were among the first to get on the bus to the remote stand where we had disembarked our Tu134 the day before. We were driven around the airfield where we quietly anticipated seeing our aircraft up close and personal. After what seemed like half an hour we pulled up next to her, looking fantastic (although dark). We were soon released to board through the rear stairs leading into the cabin, directly below the number 2 engine.

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This aircraft was way smaller than I had imagined, you could reach up and touch the number 2 engine exhaust (and I am by no means tall). I resisted the temptation to do so for fear of being told off by the ground crew and made my way into the bowels of the Yak 40. I noted the polished wooden handrail on the air stairs and after much ducking, was greeted by the single cabin crew on today’s flight.

It was highly amusing seeing big, burly Russian blokes in large puffer jackets wedged into their seats on board this tiny aircraft, which was full of character. I made myself comfortable and took in my surroundings. The cabin was quite dim as a result of the lights and dark seats, carpet and bulkhead. The window is probably the cleanest I've ever had on board an aircraft.

A few minutes later the steps were retracted with an audible whine and then a loud crack as the back door was fully closed and latched. The FA then made her way, with difficulty, to the flight deck to give the flight crew the final figures and the go ahead for departure. Due to the size of the aircraft she had to walk sideways to avoid kicking people in the shins! Once back in her galley an announcement was made in Russian only (as a result I have no idea what she said). The three engines were started and we made our way to St Petersburg's southerly runway where we were given pineapple flavoured boiled sweets/candies and took an intersection departure (cutting off a quarter of the runway) bang on time at 0930.

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http://youtu.be/IESZxXk6yyk
(Takeoff video)

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I was amazed at how flat and slow the climb out was. With long, un swept wings I never expected the Yak 40 to be much of a sports car of the sky. It was good fun though, and you could tell it was mostly hands on flying, no autopilot on this climb out today! A long sweeping turn to the left was taken to fly us parallel to the runway from which we had just departed. A fantastic view of the city and airport was for all to see as well as Pushkin air force base with several Il18's and fast jets parked up/stored.

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Slowly (very slowly) the city disappeared behind us as we gradually gained altitude flying east towards Cherepovets. I spent the majority of the flight watching the scenery get more and more snowy and just watched the world pass beneath the Yak 40's (scruffy) wing.

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Service on board consisted of a drinks run which included Coke, apple juice (the most artificial I have ever tasted), tomato juice or water. No trolleys here, just the FA walking with a tray of pre-poured glasses of drink! Soon afterwards she came back with either peanuts, or Tuc biscuits. The FA was middle aged and quite smiley in contrast to the UT air crew the previous day. After 45 minutes or so of cruising, descent began and the FA handed out more pineapple flavoured sweets (as seemed to be the norm on every single flight within Russia).

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After some excellent low flying at high speed over the countryside the flaps and gear were dropped and we slowed down onto final approach to CEE's northerly facing runway. We were chasing our shadow all the way in and within seconds of passing the threshold reverse thrust was kicked in on the number 2 engine before we'd even touched down! What a beautiful day here in north-western Russia.

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We soon vacated the runway and passed two other Servestal Yak 40's parked up, and one of their “new” CRJ's parked in a hangar before passing the modern terminal and parking alongside two or 3 other Yak 40's.

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The engines were shut down with a whine and all was quiet before the back door was re opened with another clunk and people started to disembark. The captain appeared from behind the flimsy door to the flight deck and I quickly took the chance to ask to see the flight deck, after which he let me. I was very grateful and made my way to the front and poked my head round the door, where the first officer was still busy negotiating out the window with ground staff. In my haste I got some pretty poor shots and made my escape, conscious of outstaying my welcome.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/IMG_3021-1.jpg

Dave went in a couple of seconds later and got some far better shots than I (damn!). We thanked the FA and disembarked out into the fresh air and sunshine which was greatly received. Trudging through the thin layer of snow on the apron the captain shouted something at us (we assume a goodbye) and waved, and we entered the warm terminal building.

Having seen the previous report I knew what to expect, however Dave and I had no idea what we were really going to do until our departing flight 8 hours later. The arrivals board showed our flight and 20 minutes later, the Moscow flight (which we watched land, a CRJ). The departures board showed our flight 8 hours later and the Moscow flight 10 minutes before. So, 4 movements in a day, 2 of which were ours. This didn't look promising.

We walked around the perimeter to get a shot or two of our aircraft and see if we could get one of the arriving CRJ, however the light conditions were far from favourable.

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Our ride 20 minutes after we disembarked

We had a tea or two in the terminal pondering what to do before finally managing to organise a taxi to take us to the city for the day, which was an eye-opening experience and why I love travelling! Taxi ride was a good half an hour and we paid 500 Rubles (£10/12 Euros/$16) which was pretty reasonable. It was -4 outside so it was safe to say we froze our nuts off walking round the city.

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The crest of the city

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Typical Ladas everywhere

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Wacky races!

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Russian red neck wedding?

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Bridge covered in padlocks

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What stereotypical Russia looks like

Once we'd had enough of the elements we made our way back to the airport in a pretty beaten up old Volga, with such temporary repairs as a screwdriver wedged in the window to stop it rattling and a couple of coins in the air vents to keep them in place. Fair enough!

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v476/Toml/DSC02958.jpg

I won't do a report on the return trip but here's a couple of photos worth sharing;

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Cabin view in flight

I was very interested to see the same FA on the return flight , that's one hell of a long day, well over 16 hours with 4 flights? Not sure how the duty time laws differ between the EU and Russia but that's a pretty nasty shift!

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Our bird heading back to CEE, with afterburner  

Well what an absolute bargain of a day, £70 for this experience on a pretty unique aircraft, I can't fault it! It was comfortable (for someone of my size), fairly quiet in the cruise, easy to book and convenient times for a day trip. I highly recommend before Servestal's entire fleet is replaced with CRJ's (they already have 2 that they use to Moscow).

Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the Tu154 trip report when I get round to it!


Atheists - Winning since 33 A.D.
13 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinegabrielchew From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 3370 posts, RR: 12
Reply 1, posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 9291 times:

Very interesting Tom, thanks! Nice that you manahed to get some flights on your long awaited aircraft.

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
an article in airliner world mentioning how Russian classics could be a thing of the past as soon as January 2012.

I'm surpised - I would have throught there'd still be loads of examples flying around, although having flown Antonovs, Yaks and Turpolevs, I understand why the avderage Russian would rather fly on A or B!

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
It was highly amusing seeing big, burly Russian blokes in large puffer jackets wedged into their seats on board this tiny aircraft, which was full of character. I made myself comfortable and took in my surroundings. The cabin was quite dim as a result of the lights and dark seats, carpet and bulkhead. The window is probably the cleanest I've ever had on board an aircraft.

Russian aircraft all seem to have really cramped cabins. I was so squashed on my TU154 flight MMK-LED.

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
What stereotypical Russia looks like

That reminds me of Petrozavodsk. Lucky it was sunny (even if it was frozen!)



http://my.flightmemory.com/shefgab Upcoming flights:LCY-ARN-AMS-LGW,STN-OTP-AMS-YUL,YQB-JFK-LAX-DUS-STN,LGW-DXB-BKK-HKG-
User currently offlinedebonair From Germany, joined Jan 2004, 2469 posts, RR: 4
Reply 2, posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 16 hours ago) and read 8967 times:

Always great to read from such "exotic" airliners/airlines!

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):

I was very interested to see the same FA on the return flight , that's one hell of a long day, well over 16 hours with 4 flights? Not sure how the duty time laws differ between the EU and Russia but that's a pretty nasty shift!

Also no problem within Europe (at least in Germany, Sweden) if you have inbetween "neutral time" to rest, like 8-10hrs.


User currently offlineTigerguy From United States of America, joined Aug 2010, 1001 posts, RR: 0
Reply 3, posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 8531 times:

Hello there! I've got good news and bad news:

Good news: it was an enjoyable read and everything sounded neat. Russia sounds like such a different experience that it's difficult to think about unless you see it like it is here. Speaking of which...

Bad news: you've exceeded your bandwidth for the pictures. I demand pictures! Now! (please?)   



Flying friendly for a while, but is that a widget I see in the rear-view mirror?
User currently offlineTupolevTu154 From Germany, joined Aug 2004, 2186 posts, RR: 28
Reply 4, posted (3 years 4 weeks 1 day 3 hours ago) and read 8192 times:

Quoting Tigerguy (Reply 3):

DAMN! I tried to make sure this didn't happen! I'll see what I can do, bare with me!

Edit: Upgraded to pro (sigh), now they're all viewable.

Anybody suggest any better sites that won't say I've exceeded my bandwidth after a few hours?

[Edited 2011-11-24 02:01:04]


Atheists - Winning since 33 A.D.
User currently offlineThe777Man From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 6672 posts, RR: 55
Reply 5, posted (3 years 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7772 times:

Hi !

Thanks for a very nice report! Glad you were able to finally get on the Yak-40! It does look very cramped.

Looking forward to your TU-154 report!

The777Man



Need a Boeing 777 Firing Order....Further to fly....CI, MU, LX and LH 777s
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 610 posts, RR: 5
Reply 6, posted (3 years 4 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 7723 times:

Hi TupolevTu154

Great report! I'm glad you were able to score the Yak-40 before it's too late.

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
We were chasing our shadow all the way in

That shadow looks really funny, like an insect.

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
I quickly took the chance to ask to see the flight deck, after which he let me

Very nice of them! And they let you take pictures, too. Not the norm in Russia, unfortunately.

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Thread starter):
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for the Tu154 trip report when I get round to it!

Looking forward especially to reading this one, as I helped you find this particular flight:
Help With Catching A Tupolev In Russia

Cheers,
LXM83


User currently offlinePlaneHunter From Germany, joined Mar 2006, 6943 posts, RR: 77
Reply 7, posted (3 years 4 weeks 8 hours ago) and read 7465 times:

Hi Tom,

I'm not a fan of Russian types, but it was still interesting to read about your adventure.

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Reply 4):
Anybody suggest any better sites that won't say I've exceeded my bandwidth after a few hours?

I have been using Photobucket Pro for a long time and it's worth it. Sometimes you need to invest some money for certain services.


PH



Nothing's worse than flying the same reg twice!
User currently offlineMEA-707 From Netherlands, joined Nov 1999, 4358 posts, RR: 35
Reply 8, posted (3 years 4 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 7393 times:

Hi Tom,
Fantastic to see that your goals all came out ! Congratulations and I hope it was worth the trouble. Also cCan't wait to read about the Tups of Alrosa and UTAir. Pity that I couldn't manage to squeeze in Severstal in my august trip, wonder if I get another opportunity.



nobody has ever died from hard work, but why take the risk?
User currently offlineMSS658 From Belgium, joined Oct 2010, 2474 posts, RR: 16
Reply 9, posted (3 years 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 6791 times:

Hi

Nice trip report, thanks for sharing it with us! I'm really amused by the nostalgic feel of the TU154! Looking forward to the next part!

Greetings
Marc



Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
User currently offlineMH017 From Netherlands, joined Apr 2005, 1692 posts, RR: 30
Reply 10, posted (3 years 3 weeks 4 days 22 hours ago) and read 6735 times:

Tom,

What a fantastic TR !!!

Your Severstal YAK40 looks very well taken care of, both inside- and out; I, myself, had the chance to fly on a Syrianair example a few years back, and it looked a lot worse ...

Great, you also included some pictures of the city itself...the couple on the couch is an advertisement of a furniture-factory (8 march) located at Sovietsky Prospect, as far as I can read...

Looking forward to your other installments: thanks a lot for sharing this 'off the beaten track' TR !



don't throw away tomorrow !
User currently offlineTupolevTu154 From Germany, joined Aug 2004, 2186 posts, RR: 28
Reply 11, posted (3 years 3 weeks 4 days 20 hours ago) and read 6665 times:

Quoting gabrielchew (Reply 1):
I'm surpised - I would have throught there'd still be loads of examples flying around, although having flown Antonovs, Yaks and Turpolevs, I understand why the avderage Russian would rather fly on A or B!

On the contrary, I found them more comfortable than the 735 and 763 I also flew on in that trip!

Quoting debonair (Reply 2):
Also no problem within Europe (at least in Germany, Sweden) if you have inbetween "neutral time" to rest, like 8-10hrs.

Of course, I never considered that. Another example though; The Alrosa crew flew from Mirny-Moscow, had 3 hours in Moscow before flying on to Krasnodar, 2 hours in Krasnodar, back to Moscow before going straight onto Mirny. That's gotta be at least a 20 hour day?!

Quoting LXM83 (Reply 6):
Very nice of them! And they let you take pictures, too. Not the norm in Russia, unfortunately.

I even asked the FA if I could take a cabin shot and she let me! Unfortunately she wasn't so generous when I asked if I could sit in the flight deck for landing   BUT that's a different story to when I asked in the Tupolev, you'll just have to wait and see  
Quoting LXM83 (Reply 6):

Looking forward especially to reading this one, as I helped you find this particular flight:

Yes, thank you so much for that! It took alot of effort and several phone calls to and from Russia to book it, but it was all well worth it, again, look out for the next report!

Quoting MEA-707 (Reply 8):
Also cCan't wait to read about the Tups of Alrosa and UTAir

I'll only be doing the trip report on the Alrosa. The UT air flights were all in the dark so not alot to see or say really (apart from the Tu134 was simply amazing! Probably enjoyed it most!)

Quoting MH017 (Reply 10):
Your Severstal YAK40 looks very well taken care of, both inside- and out

It was remarkably well maintained. Very clean and everything worked perfectly, the heating was especially appreciated!

Thanks again for reading and all your comments, I'll get around to the Alrosa Tupolev DME-KRR-DME as soon as I can!



Atheists - Winning since 33 A.D.
User currently offlinesignol From United Kingdom, joined Oct 2007, 3024 posts, RR: 8
Reply 12, posted (3 years 2 weeks 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 6234 times:

Whoa, awesome! It's good to see these Russian aircraft still flying, and great to see plenty of pics of them! I'd love to combine a trip to Russia to fly classics, and also ride the Trans Siberian railway. One day maybe. In the meantime, I'll make do with reading reports such as yours.
Seems like the flight deck crew were friendly, nice job!

Thanks again for the report and looking forward to the next part!

signol



Flights booked: none :(
User currently offlineLXM83 From Switzerland, joined May 2005, 610 posts, RR: 5
Reply 13, posted (3 years 2 weeks 5 days 16 hours ago) and read 6067 times:

Quoting TupolevTu154 (Reply 11):
The Alrosa crew flew from Mirny-Moscow, had 3 hours in Moscow before flying on to Krasnodar, 2 hours in Krasnodar, back to Moscow before going straight onto Mirny.

Wow, that's indeed longer than what's allowed here in Europe, 13 hours max, unless you have an enlarged crew (e.g. a relief pilot).


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