24 October 2012 – Day 5
Today is the highlight of the whole tour to me, our group is due to fly the IL
-76, a 4 engine cargo transporter to Sondok (Hamhung).
The group will have lunch there and return on either An-24 or IL
-76. I am flying the IL
-76 both ways. This is also my first time on a cargo plane!
Pyongyang to Sondok (Hamhung)
Flight time 25 minutes
We were issued with another hand written boarding pass at Pyongyang Sunan Airport.
The weather was fair, both An-24 and IL-76 were prepared on the apron for us. There were only 3 persons in the tour group taking An-24 on the outbound. Most of the enthusiasts took IL-76 flight option.
Boarding with my heart rate racing.......
Climbing up to the cargo hold.
A real beast and what a mean looking machine!
Inside the rear compartment.
Some rice and fertilizer pellet were carried as cargo. Not sure the exact purpose is weight balancing or transportation.
With everyone seated, we were about to takeoff.
Marc, does the tyre taste good ?
The engine noise was incredible on the IL-76 like no other plane I have flown before. It is even much noisier than the 4 Soloviev on the IL-62! We sat in the rear compartment where it is considered much noisier than the forward section.
Please see my video on IL-76 takeoff. It was just incredible, the video do much better visual realization of the moment.
View of looking down the whole fuselage from the rear end.
The IL-76MD is powered by four D-30KP turbofan engine. These photo were taken from one of few windows onboard.
Getting comfortable inside the cargo hold, cruising at 5,700m.
Left window view. Not long after, we are descending into Hamhung. The landing was again incredible and caught on video.
The whole flight from takeoff to landing was only 23 minutes, but it rocked everyone’s socks off!
After landing, in the usual fashion, we were allowed to walk around the aircraft and visit flight deck and the famous glass cockpit navigation area.
Kissing an IL-76 !
As usual, the crew are happy to pose for photos!
With Miss Peng, our lovely tour guide.
After 20 minutes, the An-24 has finally arrived. The IL
-76 flew way too fast in comparison with the older, slower An-24. This flight carried a total of only 3 passengers, which they have a choice of IL76 or An-24, contrary to popularity, they opted for the An-24. I think they must be extreme prop lovers!
We can take more photos around the AN-24. She was built in 1966. 46+ Years old, being one of the oldest plane in Air Koryo's fleet.
After we went to Hamhung city for lunch in a state hotel. The hotel has a typical grim Soviet style.
There is always plenty of picture of the great leader at the lobby, this time he is overlooking Mount Paktau!
The dining hall with North Korean style wall decors.
A cold lunch includes cold schnitzel and 3 pieces of potato fries, plus other condiment. All cold but with warm rice.
Korean Beer on offer.
After lunch, it is time to go back to Sondok Airport. Both planes were waiting for our group on the apron.
This time, the majority of the group flew back to Pyongyang on An-24, while only 8 or 9 of us stayed on the IL
-76 include me. I have flown plenty of An-24 so will give away for the much desired IL
-76 jet power!
The terminal at Sondok. It is the standard affair with Kim Il Sung’s portrait at every airport.
Sondok to Pyongyang
Flight time 25 minutes
The return flight is definitely more relaxing and casual even among the tour guides and Air Koryo crew. 8 of us have the whole IL-76 cargo hold to enjoy.
We took off before the An-24, so the group members got a chance to take photo and video footage of our IL
-76 roaring past them and onto the runway for takeoff. It was quite a sight from Michael Prophet's video
Here Charlie is reading the Pyongyang Times onboard the IL-76!
I took some rest by laying down on the benches.
Miss Peng did the same thing.
And some friendship posing together, looks like we own the IL-76! A disco inside the IL-76 with the Soloviev Symphony at 6,500m!
Miss Peng who dosen't mind posing for pictures at my request. Beauty onboard the beast!
View from the back. You can see the cargo pellet was offloaded in Sondok, now we are heading back with empty load!
This is the load master station onboard IL-76. The small door on the right lead you to the cockpit and navigation glass area.
Window view. We're on descend very shortly.
Shortly we started the descend to Pyongyang, quite a few of us actually fell onto the floor due to the descend rate/pitch was so steep that you can feel the nose is diving. Never mind, it was a “one of a kind” experience falling to the floor on an IL
Here a picture after I fell onto the floor
After only 25 minutes of flight, we touched down again in Pyongyang Sunan Airport. I couldn’t see outside during landing so I felt like I was in a flying truck (very loud one) veering left and right. The landing itself was a smooth one.
After waiting the rest of the group for over 20 minutes, we finally saw the An-24 slowly taxi into the apron. A very nice drumming sound from the prop!
I climb onboard the An-24 to take a look, it was 50 Degrees Celsius inside like a sauna, probably the air conditioning was not functioning.
Cabin of An-24 in good condition.
The cockpit of An-24. Famous black cockpit instrument panel. Unlike the IL-62, everything is black here!
Follow the tradition, a group shot taken in front of the An-24.
After the photo, we were taken to the adjacent apron to view the IL-14 and other aircraft parked around her.
This is the engine of IL-18. It seems maintained extremely well.
The IL-14 was preserved and unlikely to fly again, it was a gift from the Soviet Union to Kim Il Sung.
The preserved cockpit of IL-14
The cockpit of the IL-14 follows by radio controls.
Cabin inside the IL-14
A small bathroom located at the back.
The Air Koryo fleet line up at home base, almost all T tails except the Tu204. Note the Cubana IL-62 was a gift from Cuba, now she is used as spare parts only. She wear the registration P-886P.
After the airport tour, we head to the tower of Juche.
The Juche Tower (officially the Tower of the Juche Idea) is a monument in Pyongyang, North Korea. The tower is named after the principle of Juche, developed by Kim Il Sung as a blend of autarky, self-reliance, nationalism, Korean traditionalism, and Marxism-Leninism.
An elevator brings you to the top and from there you have a nice 360 degrees view of Pyongyang. It cost 5 Euros for the visit.
View of Kim Il Sung Square.
At the bottom is a wall with signs of all kind of organizations and 'Kim Il Sung Study-groups' from many countries that support the concept of Juche.
We ended a very nice day at the BBQ Duck Restaurant; I was told Korean people love eating duck. Some brave members also tried their hot and spicy “Dog” soup!
Video from Day 5. Do not miss the sound of IL-76!