Leaving the terminal on my way to the hotel, we passed the preserved Tu-114 "gate guardian" CCCP-76464.
Photo © Snorre - VIP Vienna International Planespotters
I checked in for my return flight about 3 hours ahead of time. Walking up to the executive lounge level, I passed though the security checkpoint. Although some interest was taken in my camera bag, I didn't have any problem here. Just beyond the checkpoint, next to a small parade of shops, was a large window offering a great view of the runway being used for landing, and a large portion of the apron. I had spent a pleasant 20 minutes of so here looking at the planes (with my small discreet binoculars) and noting registrations in my log book.
After a while, I became aware of someone standing just beside me. I looked up to see a female East Line employee looking at me with a somewhat zealous expression on her face. In faltering English (but better than my Russian!), she asked me "What you do?" Trying to explain the finer aspects of spotting to someone in a language they don't really understand, presented one of life's more bizarre moments! She took a great interest in my note book, and eventually demanded that I follow her. She swiftly picked up my camera bag and I had to hot-foot after her clutching my laptop bag. After a five minute conversation with another female colleague, I was asked numerous questions in Russian, but all I could do was smile and shrug.
I was asked to follow the two rather severe women and was taken to an East Line office in the bowels of the terminal. I was offered a seat in front of their supervisor's desk while they told him what had transpired. He also took great interest in my log book and asked me to explain the contents. I tried to convince him of the innocent nature of my hobby while he flicked through the log book. After a while he spoke to someone else on the phone and informed me an interpreter was on the way. He was pleasant at all times, and even seemed pleased that I was so interested in Russian aviation (I was trying to explain that we don't see many Russian types in Europe these days).
Eventually the interpreter arrived and asked me to explain what I had been doing. She translated to the supervisor and the two "arresting" officers. I was then told in very severe tones that photography was strictly forbidden in the terminal. I explained that, despite the fact I was carrying a camera bag, I had not been taking photographs. I showed them my binoculars, and the woman who had originally spoken to me confirmed that I had been using the binoculars when she "arrested" me.
At once the whole mood of the room was lifted and everyone was smiling. My property was returned, and I was offered profuse apologies for the misunderstanding. I shook hands with everyone and was escorted back to the window so I could resume spotting. I decided to retire to the BA lounge for a stiff drink! Of course, once I entered the lounge, I realised that it offered as good a view as I had previously had, with the added bonus of free alcohol. I spent the remaining time before boarding spotting in comfort.
Summary of aircraft seen at DME:
The gems -
Moldova Government Tu-134
Vietnam Airlines B777
Volga Dnepr An-124
Air Moldova A320
2 x Armavia A320
VIM Airlines B757
The "standard" stuff -
Tu-154s by the bucketload (35)
Assorted Yak-40 & 42s (9)
Il-86s & Il-96s (8)
TransAero's fleet of B737s & B767s
All in all, an interesting visit! Lots of lovely Russian types to make a great change from the Airbus and Boeing dominated airports in Europe. In fact, I only saw 4 Airbus planes in total, a few more Boeings (with TransAero's fleet of 737s & 767s based here). Hopefully, the next time I visit Moscow, I will have some more time, and might even be able to take some photographs (but not in the terminal!)