THR-MHD on Iran Air Tours
After a couple of days in Qom our group returned to Tehran to make the trip to the holy city of Mashhad. Tehran is a teeming metropolis with some really amazing features such roadside canals that take melted ice from the mountains and rain and provide irrigation for the roadside trees. So far on the trip our experiences with the people of Iran were tremendously positive. They were smart, educated and worldly as well exceptional hosts. It was still cool in Tehran but spring-like weather was starting to warm up the region. Our driver made his way through the jammed streets toward Mehrabad Airport, now only used for domestic flights and Hajj charters. We passed “Azadi” Square (Freedom).
Azadi Square by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
Tuesday February 24, 2009
Mehrabad airport is an outdated relic from a different era but still I found some intangible charm in the old girl.
THR Term_016 by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
I was very reluctant to snap any photos in the terminal as I didn’t know what the stance was of the authorities. Our check-in was smooth and we made our way to the departure area. An interesting quirk is that the men’s and women’s security lines are so segregated that they are in separate sections of the terminal.
The departure area is pretty sparse with just a couple of small food outlets and a smoking room. There was a lounge tucked away in the far corner.
Our aircraft was at a remote stand so we would have to use the special transport to take use there since I was travelling with a wheelchair pax.
Boarding call was made and boarding commenced, I had to go to a separate exit where the lift van was waiting. I rolled the wheelchair onto the ramp and into the back of this truck along with. I strapped in the chair and peered out the window as the truck made its way to our remote stand. During this I saw close up several TU-154Ms and was hoping that one of them would be our aircraft to Mashhad. Well my hope was answered as the truck pulled up to the L1 door of EP-MCS and began lifting to align the ramp with the door.
Iran Air Tours
Cabin Crew: 14
Pax Load: 358
Sector Distance: 480 nm
ETD: 13:00 L
ATD: 13:17 L
Departure Rwy: 29
ETA: 14:40 L
ATA: 14:45 L
Arrival Rwy: 31R
Block Time: 1:10
Actual Airborne Time: 1:22
Meal Service: Lunch
Photo © Tiyam
Boarding the Tupolev
THR TU154_017 by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
Once inside we were greeted by the captain and first officer who had seen us pull up.
The cabin staff was young and the female F/As extremely attractive. Since we were the last to board the doors were quickly shut and the F/As began the safety demonstration in Farsi.
I wasn’t paying any attention as I was like a little kid taking in the whole experience of being on a Russian aircraft. I noticed that many of the signs onboard were in Russian and Farsi.
The engines spooled up and we began the short taxi to Rwy. 29
I guess the pilot was former IAF because as we had barely even lined up the runway when he hit the throttle and roared down the runway. The sound of the engines was intoxicating as they rumbled like a vintage muscle car.
Hazy Tehran below
THR TU154_018 by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
I had a nice view of the Iranian landscape below as we crossed the Elburz Mountains.
Shortly after the ‘fasten seatbelts’ sign was extinguished the F/As passed out lunch boxes as part of the lunch service.
Lunch consisted of a Kebab burger, cheese-n-crackers, and a chocolate bar.
Surprisingly the sandwich was warm and fairly substantial as well. The F/A’s were efficient yet very quiet and reserved. Shortly after the service I could feel the aircraft slowing a touch and dropping altitude… after so many flights, one gets used to noticing small variations in engine noise and altitude changes.
We began our descent Southwest of Mashhad and flew east of the city before turning back towards the airport. We touched down on landed on 31R at 14:45 L, 5 minutes behind schedule. It was a clear afternoon in Mashhad with a temperature of 7C.
There are no jetways at Shahid Hashemi Nejad airport so we pulled in beside a row of Iran Air Tours TU-154Ms.
MHD TU154_019 by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
Nose shot from the Lift Truck
MHD TU154_020 by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
MHD TU154_021 by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
I had to wait until everyone had deplaned before the lift truck came to take me and my father to the terminal. Our baggage was promptly delivered to the carosiel and we made our way outside to meet the guides/transportation for our stay in the Holy city of Mashhad.
Drive to the hotel
MHD Road_023 by Kazim R Alikhan, on Flickr
[Edited 2011-02-11 20:03:25]