beachbum1970
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During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:45 am

During the Cold War era, when Aeroflot crews would layover in western countries, where would the flight crews stay at? As an example, Aeroflot flew to JFK and Washington Dulles. Did they stay at the Marriott or Hilton? Or did Aeroflot have a place for the crews to stay at where they could be closely monitored? I would think the western style hotels would have been considered quite opulent to the average Russian back in those days. Were they allowed to watch western "propaganda" television (you know, Dallas, Miami Vice, the news) in their rooms? Did Aeroflot crews ever try to defect? Were they allowed to go shopping and bring back western goods to their families back home? Did KGB agents ever follow along and keep an eye on them? Any insight or interesting stories would be greatly appreciated!
 
cs03
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 12:54 am

I think that Aeroflot crews stayed at the local Russian Embassy, so as to not be influenced by our culture.
 
thomasphoto60
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:01 am

I was in Nairobi in '82' and I vividly recall a SU crew walking in and being catered to, whilst being checked in (Intercontinental Hotel),
"Show me the Braniffs"
 
beachbum1970
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:08 am

Quoting thomasphoto60 (Reply 2):
I was in Nairobi in '82' and I vividly recall a SU crew walking in and being catered to, whilst being checked in (Intercontinental Hotel)

Interesting! I actually stayed at that Intercontinental in Nairobi back in 1988.
 
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pwm2txlhopper
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:03 am

I'd guess they probably stayed In the same hotels as any other flight crew? The crews were civilian. They had business in the USA, and reason to be here. Just as the civilian Soviet passengers they carried. Even though it was the Cold War, people who had reasons to be here, whether it be business, diplomatic, etc. regularly came here. Just as Americans went to the USSR. And the reason for the flights such as the ones you mentioned.

Where do crews from communist countries or countries with less than friendly relations with the USA stay when they fly here today? Crews from places like Vietnam or China? Where do diplomats, businessmen, or other civilians from these countries stay? Where did former Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad stay when he would come to New York for UN meetings? Or even Tom Brokaw when he'd report live from Moscow during the 1980's. The same hotels any other travelers with business to be here would have stayed in.
 
aeroflop
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:22 am

My mother was an international flight attendant in the late 80s.
They stayed in normal hotels and she brought me back lots of goodies  
 
beachbum1970
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:58 am

Quoting pwm2txlhopper (Reply 4):
Just as Americans went to the USSR.

The only western tourists who travelled to the USSR had to do so with a government approved tour group and were closely monitored by the KGB and stayed at specific tourist only hotels (much nicer than the average Soviet hotels). Think North Korea today. My Dad, a Pan Am pilot who would layover in Moscow, said he couldn't even leave the hotel. I lived in West Berlin during the 80s and there were always East Germans trying to escape or defect. Life was hard back in the old Soviet Union and I was wondering if the few Russians who WERE allowed to visit western countries (Aeroflot crews) ever defected and how the Russian government kept them "in line".
 
Yflyer
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:27 am

Quoting beachbum1970 (Thread starter):
I would think the western style hotels would have been considered quite opulent to the average Russian back in those days.

I don't think Aeroflot crews were "average" Russians, though. I believe they had higher status in Soviet society and probably had it pretty good by Russian standards, so they probably had less reason to defect.
 
RIXrat
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:44 am

Having lived in Leningrad (now back to St. Petersburg) in the late 70s as a foreign correspondent, international SU crews were the cream of the crop in both skill and loyalty. The skill part was self-evident, because it took plenty of skill to fly the Il-62, plus that plane had a gaggle of flight crew aboard -- pilot, F/O, 2nd officer, navigator and radio operator.

Then there were the minders, or simply said KGB "Politruks," or political officers who watched everyone else. The flight crew's minder was usually the radio operator who was in charge of the coms and spoke English. In the passenger section, the Stewart prevailed. Logical, wouldn't you say.

On many international trips SU brought a second crew along and did a quick turnaround so the aircraft would not have to overnight. If that was impossible then the group think and travel took effect. Rarely did SU crew members wander off on their own and it was rather comical to see a couple of dozen Russian tourists invade Macy's. I've heard of a few defections, but those so privileged to travel overseas, usually wanted to come back again for more goodies.
 
globalflyer
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:45 am

The Metropole was one of if not the only hotel that "foreigners" were allowed to stay in Moscow. It is now a very opulant hotel next to the Kremlin.
Landing on every Continent almost on an annual basis!
 
Interflugmemory
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:30 am

In reply to #6. You could travel by yourself, unescorted, in the USSR; I did. I traveled by myself on planes, trains, buses and subways. I drove a rental car all by myself . Intourist would set up the route and the dates, you could request specific flights and hotels but they would choose. They would know where you were supposed to be, but you could be by yourself. There were areas that were off limits.

I used to drive around East Germany by myself all the time. Public transit by myself too. You had to have your hotel reservation ahead of time. You had to register with the police in each town. Usually the hotel would register you, occasionally I had to go to the police station myself. Unlike the USSR where the police were expecting you, in East German towns I twice suprised the police and they had to look up how to register an American.
I wandered around East German cities and towns at all hours of the day and night. An American stuck out like a sore thumb and occassionaly a police officer would check ID but not always.

I traveled unescorted in Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. In Vietnam (1990) there were guides on the transfers between cities but once in the city you were free to go out on your own.

East German truck drivers traveled into the west frequently as did business people. Diplomats too.
Things were bad enough, freedom was restricted enough; we don't need to make it worse than it really was.

[Edited 2013-09-25 22:57:31]
 
RIXrat
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:35 am

@Interflugmemory -- About unrestricted travel. I was allowed 25 km from the central post office and then within that, there were banned zones. One really had to look at the map. Outside that area, I had to get permission from the Foreign Ministry. This was tit for tat so the TASS correspondent in San Francisco could not access Silicone Valley at the time without U.S. permission.
 
vfw614
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:42 am

Saw a documentary about Interflug flight attendants the other day. They said that usually only married crew were assigned to flights to Western countries and if the partner was crew as well, never at the same time. They spoke about shopping and lay-overs in non-communist countries, so it apparently was not as bad as some earlier posts in this thread suggest.
 
richcandy
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:45 am

Quoting Yflyer (Reply 7):
I don't think Aeroflot crews were "average" Russians, though. I believe they had higher status in Soviet society and probably had it pretty good by Russian standards, so they probably had less reason to defect.

Totally a guess but if you used crew who had husband's/wife's and kids at home then I guess also they are less likely to defect and leave their family in the USSR.
 
jimbobjoe
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:09 am

Quoting richcandy (Reply 13):
Totally a guess but if you used crew who had husband's/wife's and kids at home then I guess also they are less likely to defect and leave their family in the USSR.

This is how North Korea controls its citizens that leave. Only those who are married with family are allowed to leave NK (with the understanding that their family's fate is dependent on them returning.)
 
DIJKKIJK
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 8:35 am

I have read somewhere that SU flight crew used to shop for a lot of western made products during their layovers, which they would sell in the black market back home at a huge profit. Western goods were in very high demand in the USSR

[Edited 2013-09-26 01:42:16]
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BA84
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 10:21 am

Where did Aeroflot crews stay?
I remember the situation at Gander, during the Soviet days.
Aeroflot had to re-fuel there on flights to Cuba. The IL-86 also had to re-fuel at Shannon.
Aeroflot had a tank farm at Gander. Fuel was carried by marine tankers to Lewisporte,
then Shell trucks brought it to the airport tank farm (5 tanks).
Aeroflot bought an entire apartment building for crew, guarded by KGB men.
Despite all this security, they used a local taxi company to and from the airport.
They insisted on big American V-8's. No Japanese cars.......Nyet!
That's how it was in Soviet days.

BA84
 
DTWPurserBoy
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:02 pm

I I know in DC they stayed at the Russian Embassy.

In SNN, their big IL-62 used to park right next to us and while we were waiting for our passengers, many of us on the crew (including the pilots) would walk over to see their airplane and visit. We had these huge beautiful cream cakes in FC--usually two were boarded and one was more than enough for the passengers, so we would bring the cake over for their crews. In return, they would give us some killer Russian vodka (perfect for making "Crew Juice" on our layover in PIK) and let us walk around the aircraft. It was pretty dull looking and I remember there were small fans above each of the pilot seats. We would invite them over to see our 747 and they would look at one man in a pilot's uniform (who was a "political officer") and they would all look at him and politely respond "It is not permitted." That was sad because you could see how much they wanted a chance to set foot on a 747.

Sometimes we would trade our flight wings for a pair of theirs. While ours were made of a heavy grade metal, theirs were stamped out of tin and were poorly made. But I walked around for months wearing Aeroflot wings on my uniform before an eagle-eyed supervisor caught me.

I remember our captain asking theirs how he liked the IL-62 and he responded with "How do you say this in English? It is a piece of s**t." Their crews were very friendly, funny and there were some incredibly beautiful flight attendants.

Then the shoot down of KAL 007 happened. That ended the visiting. We would trudge up to do some duty free shopping and we would pass them in the hall and we would just look sadly at each other and keep on walking.

The brotherhood of airline crews knows no national boundaries. Get us together and we all talk shop and bore non-airline people to death.
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PanAm1971
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:12 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 17):
I I know in DC they stayed at the Russian Embassy.In SNN, their big IL-62 used to park right next to us and while we were waiting for our passengers, many of us on the crew (including the pilots) would walk over to see their airplane and visit. We had these huge beautiful cream cakes in FC--usually two were boarded and one was more than enough for the passengers, so we would bring the cake over for their crews. In return, they would give us some killer Russian vodka (perfect for making "Crew Juice" on our layover in PIK) and let us walk around the aircraft. It was pretty dull looking and I remember there were small fans above each of the pilot seats. We would invite them over to see our 747 and they would look at one man in a pilot's uniform (who was a "political officer") and they would all look at him and politely respond "It is not permitted." That was sad because you could see how much they wanted a chance to set foot on a 747.Sometimes we would trade our flight wings for a pair of theirs. While ours were made of a heavy grade metal, theirs were stamped out of tin and were poorly made. But I walked around for months wearing Aeroflot wings on my uniform before an eagle-eyed supervisor caught me.I remember our captain asking theirs how he liked the IL-62 and he responded with "How do you say this in English? It is a piece of s**t." Their crews were very friendly, funny and there were some incredibly beautiful flight attendants.Then the shoot down of KAL 007 happened. That ended the visiting. We would trudge up to do some duty free shopping and we would pass them in the hall and we would just look sadly at each other and keep on walking.The brotherhood of airline crews knows no national boundaries. Get us together and we all talk shop and bore non-airline people to death.

What a great story! Awesome! What airline did you fly for?
 
travelavnut
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:33 pm

Great stories here!! Please let them coming  
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Hypoxik
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 1:54 pm

Agree, that is a cool story.

Thanks for sharing.
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rahulrahul
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:03 pm

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 17):
I I know in DC they stayed at the Russian Embassy.

In SNN, their big IL-62 used to park right next to us and while we were waiting for our passengers, many of us on the crew (including the pilots) would walk over to see their airplane and visit. We had these huge beautiful cream cakes in FC--usually two were boarded and one was more than enough for the passengers, so we would bring the cake over for their crews. In return, they would give us some killer Russian vodka (perfect for making "Crew Juice" on our layover in stwick (PIK / EGPK), United Kingdom">PIK) and let us walk around the aircraft. It was pretty dull looking and I remember there were small fans above each of the pilot seats. We would invite them over to see our 747 and they would look at one man in a pilot's uniform (who was a "political officer") and they would all look at him and politely respond "It is not permitted." That was sad because you could see how much they wanted a chance to set foot on a 747.

Sometimes we would trade our flight wings for a pair of theirs. While ours were made of a heavy grade metal, theirs were stamped out of tin and were poorly made. But I walked around for months wearing Aeroflot wings on my uniform before an eagle-eyed supervisor caught me.

I remember our captain asking theirs how he liked the IL-62 and he responded with "How do you say this in English? It is a piece of s**t." Their crews were very friendly, funny and there were some incredibly beautiful flight attendants.

Then the shoot down of KAL 007 happened. That ended the visiting. We would trudge up to do some duty free shopping and we would pass them in the hall and we would just look sadly at each other and keep on walking.

The brotherhood of airline crews knows no national boundaries. Get us together and we all talk shop and bore non-airline people to death.

Wow! What a story! Touches your heart......

Thanks for sharing! This would make a great short film!

Rahul

[Edited 2013-09-26 07:37:58]
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outbackair
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:09 pm

I flew Ariana Afghan in 1980s from LHR to DEL. Chose this route because it was a bit different. Ariana DC-10 crews used to walk off in FRA and not return, so the planes were switched to TU-154s terminating in Prague. Remember, this was during Russian occupation of Afghanistan. Ariana chartered CSA TU-134s to carry their LHR pax to Prague, not sure about FRA. It was a regular CSA flight number, but not bookable unless on the Ariana connection. I think there were only a handful of pax on my flights. Prague to DEL is another story, via Alma Ata and Kabul, a real adventure!
 
Norlander
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:31 pm

This is the best thread on here in years! Please keep the stories coming. These are historical events that have been under-reported.
Longtime Lurker
 
DTWPurserBoy
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:32 pm

Back then we were still called Northwest Orient.

Thanks for all the nice comments. Much appreciated.

[Edited 2013-09-26 07:33:36]
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falstaff
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:40 pm

Quoting Interflugmemory (Reply 10):
I used to drive around East Germany by myself all the time. Public transit by myself too. You had to have your hotel reservation ahead of time. You had to register with the police in each town.

That is true. I found some travel information from the late 60s, in my dad's collection of maps, that stated what was needed to travel in the DDR. There were a lot of hoops to jump though, but if you managed to jump though them you could go.

Quoting DIJKKIJK (Reply 15):
I have read somewhere that SU flight crew used to shop for a lot of western made products during their layovers, which they would sell in the black market back home at a huge profit. Western goods were in very high demand in the USSR

Back in the 1980s I remember watching a documentary, in school, about life in the USSR (we watched a lot of that stuff back then) and I recall seeing an interview with a teenager who had a father, who traveled internationally for his job, and brought him back a fancy Japanese stereo system.

Quoting Yflyer (Reply 7):
I don't think Aeroflot crews were "average" Russians, though.

I am sure the kind of people who crewed international flights were politically reliable and didn't want to leave. Not everyone in a communist society was oppressed, hated it, or wanted to leave. I have an East German friend who was came from a reliable family of police officers (he was also a police officer in the DDR) and they had it pretty good.
My mug slaketh over on Falstaff N503
 
DTWPurserBoy
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 2:51 pm

I had a three day layover in FRA and several of my crew and I flew Pan Am up to Berlin. As an American, getting in to East Berlin was not difficult. We would be on a bus that would pass through Checkpoint Charlie. It zigged and zagged to prevent anyone from ramming their way through. At some point the bus would stop. Guys would walk around the bus with mirrors looking under it and in the baggage compartments. Two men would board the bus--one a Vopo (Volks Polizei) heavily armed, the other in a suit. They would check each individual passport, compare the picture with the person, slip a temporary visa into the passport and hand it back to you with the words "Don't lose it." Very sobering. As you left the same process was followed and they took the visa back.

I remember standing on a platform in West Berlin looking across the "no man's land" into the east. Our guide said "Do you see that mound of dirt in the middle of the zone? Under that is the old Fuehrer Bunker."

We saw numerous SU crews visiting the sights in East Berlin, especially the World War 2 Memorial to the Soviet troops that liberated the city.
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Interflugmemory
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:25 pm

People in West Berlin could take a bus to the East Berlin airport and get flights, American journalists and tour-groups never seemed to do this. Rather than take a non-stop from East Berlin to Moscow or wherever, American tour-groups would fly from West Berlin to Frankfurt than switch planes and doubleback again east. Does anyone know why this was?

At the risk of answering my own question maybe western travel agencies just weren't set up for dealing with the east. In 1988 my mom tried to book a Budapest to East Berlin flight and American travel agents assured her there were no such flights. It didn't matter if they typed in EAST Berlin, or EAST Germany, their resevation machines only showed Tegel (West Berlin) flights. Only when we provided them with the SXF code were they able to see flights to East Berlin.

The contrast between the Berlin airports was fun: at Tegel there were Pan Am, British and Air France planes going to prosperous western cities, at SXF there were Mozambiquens, North Koreans, Libyians, etc. (Plus West Berliners off on fun in the sun beach vacations.)
 
bohica
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:20 pm

Quoting DIJKKIJK (Reply 15):
I have read somewhere that SU flight crew used to shop for a lot of western made products during their layovers, which they would sell in the black market back home at a huge profit. Western goods were in very high demand in the USSR

I think the first order of business for an Aeroflot crew with a layover at IAD was a shopping spree at Tysons Corner. When I used to work at IAD, I would see Aeroflot crews walking through the airport with as many shopping bags as they could carry, in addition to their regular bags.
 
gegarrenton
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:28 pm

Quoting Norlander (Reply 23):
This is the best thread on here in years! Please keep the stories coming. These are historical events that have been under-reported

Agreed, this is fascinating reading!
 
kaitak
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:30 pm

As BA84 mentions above, the IL86s used to stop at SNN and Gander on their way to/from Cuba. Aeroflot had a big operation at SNN from the early 1980s to the mid to late 1990s (can't remember when it stopped, but probably with the Western aircraft being able to overfly SNN flying to the US and Cuba); they had their own house where crews stayed during their layovers. By all accounts they enjoyed it.

The airline flew mostly IL62s and '86s, but you would also get '76s and of course, Cuban aircraft, such as IL62s and '76s - even the odd Antonov - flying through SNN. By the mid 1990s, SU was flying A310s and flying to Washington, Miami, HAV and MEX from SNN (with traffic rights).
 
Rara
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 4:41 pm

Quoting beachbum1970 (Reply 6):
Think North Korea today.

I think that's the premise of this thread, and it's somewhat misleading. The Soviet Union wasn't North Korea, people regularly travelled in and out of it, and though politically very repressive, it wasn't like a total hellhole or anything. People in the cities had a dull, but okay life. It's not like they were all desperatly trying to leave the country.

Remember that for decades, the Soviet Union appeared to keep up pretty well economically, so much that people still thought there was a "battle of the systems". Only in hindsight do we know that planned economies didn't function at any point in time.

Quoting DTWPurserBoy (Reply 17):
Sometimes we would trade our flight wings for a pair of theirs. While ours were made of a heavy grade metal, theirs were stamped out of tin and were poorly made. But I walked around for months wearing Aeroflot wings on my uniform before an eagle-eyed supervisor caught me.

Hehe. In the 1980s my mother was a flight attendant with LH. One time in Beijing, they bought a whole set of those little red tin stars at a local market and sewed them to their uniform hats.   On departure from Beijing, the whole crew wore the red stars including the cockpit crew. When asked they said it was legally required by the People's Republic.   The Chinese passengers were delighted. They took the stars off well before arriving back in FRA of course.

I've got a photo of that somewhere, it's hilarious.

Quoting Interflugmemory (Reply 27):
It didn't matter if they typed in EAST Berlin, or EAST Germany, their resevation machines only showed Tegel (West Berlin) flights. Only when we provided them with the SXF code were they able to see flights to East Berlin.

Those never were the official names of the country or the city, which may explain why they never found it like that. East Germany was officially called the German Democratic Republic, of course, and East Berlin was simply Berlin, Capital of the GDR. In East Germany they referred to West-Berlin as Berlin (West). Just one of the many little games they played.
Samson was a biblical tough guy, but his dad Samsonite was even more of a hard case.
 
Interflugmemory
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:25 pm

"Those never were the official names of the country or the city, which may explain why they never found it like that. East Germany was officially called the German Democratic Republic, of course, and East Berlin was simply Berlin, Capital of the GDR. In East Germany they referred to West-Berlin as Berlin (West). "

My mom told the American travel agents Berlin, Hauptstadt Berlin, GDR, DDR, etc., their machine only showed Tegel flights. When we tried to reason with them that GDR citizens (who didn't need a visa for Hungary) wouldn't routinely transit through Frankfurt and West Berlin they said that the reservation machine could not be wrong. A lesson to all of us not to assume that the screen is always right. They were embarrassed when "SXF" showed the flights.

---------------

This was long ago and I might have some details scrambled but...In the '70s a Soviet ballet dancer defected in New York and his ballerina wife tried to return home. American authorities wouldn't believe she would choose to go back and there was a three day standoff at JFK where they wouldn't let the Aeroflot plane leave. IIRC once the US government allowed them to go the JFK groundstaff wouldn't tow the plane. The pilots put the Il-62 into reverse, shaking but not shattering the terminal's windows, they backed out, and returned to the motherland.
The Soviets later made a movie about it. I believe it was called 'Flight 222.'

[Edited 2013-09-26 10:28:00]

[Edited 2013-09-26 10:33:01]
 
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:36 pm

 
BA84
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RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 5:54 pm

Further to my post on refuelling in Gander.
Canadian regulations required passengers to be unloaded, while refuelling, especially important with the volatile Russian jet fuel.
I was in the Arrivals Hall, when an IL-86 was disembarked.
A very attractive Russian woman approached me, and blurted out,
"refugee!" I took her to the RCMP office in the airport, which was standard procedure. She was put in a shabby hotel where the defectors were housed. I ran into her in one of the discount stores in town and had lunch with her. She told me a fascinating tale of intrigue.
She bought a return ticket to Cuba, not from Aeroflot, but from a shady character in Moscow. "You can call me Demitri...."
It cost her a thousand roubles. She was met at Moscow airport (SVO)
and given her ticket and full instructions. When the plane unloaded at Gander, she was to approach an RCMP officer (they showed her a photo of the uniform) and declare herself a "refugee". This one word was enough to give her sanctuary in Canada. Gander became better known in the Soviet Union, than Montreal! It was sort of a "Gander Express". There were four flights a day, two in each direction.
Some Russians, who had been working in Cuba, jumped off on the way home. There were defectors on every flight, sometimes four, sometimes ten. The record for one flight was 40. The situation became embarrassing for Canada. Russians, Cubans, East Germans.
Every flight had KGB officers on board, but they could do little when 300 people swarmed into the Arrivals Hall. Defectors lost their luggage. Bags were not unloaded. Thus, the amount of carry-on became ridiculous. The Canadian government booked an entire hotel to house the defectors. The Newfoundland government refused to let them stay permanently, so after being debriefed to weed out spies, they were sent to the big cities, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto.
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.

BA84
 
gegarrenton
Posts: 203
Joined: Fri Aug 03, 2012 3:32 pm

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:07 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):
Further to my post on refuelling in Gander.
Canadian regulations required passengers to be unloaded, while refuelling, especially important with the volatile Russian jet fuel.
I was in the Arrivals Hall, when an IL-86 was disembarked.
A very attractive Russian woman approached me, and blurted out,
"refugee!" I took her to the RCMP office in the airport, which was standard procedure. She was put in a shabby hotel where the defectors were housed. I ran into her in one of the discount stores in town and had lunch with her. She told me a fascinating tale of intrigue.
She bought a return ticket to Cuba, not from Aeroflot, but from a shady character in Moscow. "You can call me Demitri...."
It cost her a thousand roubles. She was met at Moscow airport (SVO)
and given her ticket and full instructions. When the plane unloaded at Gander, she was to approach an RCMP officer (they showed her a photo of the uniform) and declare herself a "refugee". This one word was enough to give her sanctuary in Canada. Gander became better known in the Soviet Union, than Montreal! It was sort of a "Gander Express". There were four flights a day, two in each direction.
Some Russians, who had been working in Cuba, jumped off on the way home. There were defectors on every flight, sometimes four, sometimes ten. The record for one flight was 40. The situation became embarrassing for Canada. Russians, Cubans, East Germans.
Every flight had KGB officers on board, but they could do little when 300 people swarmed into the Arrivals Hall. Defectors lost their luggage. Bags were not unloaded. Thus, the amount of carry-on became ridiculous. The Canadian government booked an entire hotel to house the defectors. The Newfoundland government refused to let them stay permanently, so after being debriefed to weed out spies, they were sent to the big cities, Montreal, Ottawa, Toronto.
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.

Whoa! That is the best story I have have heard on A.net ever!
 
travelavnut
Posts: 1327
Joined: Wed May 12, 2010 1:35 pm

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:11 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):

Sir, you just made my day, what a read, thank you!
Live From Amsterdam!
 
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WildcatYXU
Posts: 3133
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 2:05 pm

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:17 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.



Cool story   

I always wondered why OK's IL62's stopped at YUL (or was it YMX at the time?) instead of YQX. That was the point where our defectors got off the plane. Unfortunately, the IL62 could make it back to PRG from Cuba non-stop, so those people couldn't enjoy their vacation before starting an entirely new life.
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rampart
Posts: 1800
Joined: Sun Aug 07, 2005 5:58 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:18 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.

Fantastic!

Yet another nascent movie plot line.

This really is an enjoyable lesson thread. I have to go back to work, will catch up more later.

-Rampart
 
goosebayguy
Posts: 664
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:12 pm

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:25 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 16):
Aeroflot had a tank farm at Gander.

I was living in Goose Bay Labrador back in 1983. I well recall the big issue at the time when Cubana/Aeroflot were wanting to bring in their own fuel and the locals didn't want this. Eventually they let it happen because it would still provide jobs and bring money into the economy as you say with the Shell tankers and local taxis.
 
BA84
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 2:36 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:28 pm

Quoting WildcatYXU (Reply 37):
the IL62 could make it back to PRG from Cuba non-stop,

I forgot to mention that "Demitri" gave her explicit instructions,
that if an IL-62M, was substituted for the IL-86,
she was to refuse to board. The IL-62M might not stop at Gander.
It HAD to be an IL-86.

BA84
 
goosebayguy
Posts: 664
Joined: Fri Sep 25, 2009 1:12 pm

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:35 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 16):
Aeroflot had a tank farm at Gander.

I was living in Goose Bay Labrador back in 1983. I well recall the big issue at the time when Cubana/Aeroflot were wanting to bring in their own fuel and the locals didn't want this. Eventually they let it happen because it would still provide jobs and bring money into the economy as you say with the Shell tankers and local taxis.
 
HELFAN
Posts: 58
Joined: Fri Aug 12, 2011 9:56 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:37 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.

Thank you for sharing this wonderful story.

We Finns are familiar with these stories as we lived next to the Soviet Union but this one was truly unique.

All the best to you
 
VC10DC10
Posts: 655
Joined: Sun Apr 30, 2006 9:56 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:53 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.

What a touching story!
 
User avatar
WildcatYXU
Posts: 3133
Joined: Sat May 06, 2006 2:05 pm

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 6:58 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 40):
forgot to mention that "Demitri" gave her explicit instructions,
that if an IL-62M, was substituted for the IL-86,
she was to refuse to board. The IL-62M might not stop at Gander.
It HAD to be an IL-86.



Comparing the range of the two I can certainly see why. While the 62M could make it to Cuba non-stop under proper conditions (light load, jetstream pushed north), the 86 absolutely had to stop at Gander.
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sovietjet
Posts: 2669
Joined: Sat Mar 15, 2003 12:32 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:12 pm

Quoting Interflugmemory (Reply 10):

I traveled unescorted in Cuba, Czechoslovakia, Hungary, Yugoslavia and Bulgaria. In Vietnam (1990) there were guides on the transfers between cities but once in the city you were free to go out on your own.

What did you do that you had to travel through all these countries? And unescorted? I honestly never thought cars could be rented in the USSR and Eastern Bloc. Hell even in the 90s I don't remember cars for rent in Bulgaria. How was that whole process done in those days?
 
BA84
Posts: 184
Joined: Thu Aug 05, 2004 2:36 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:15 pm

The 86 was a real gas-guzzler.
Between Moscow and Havana,
it had to stop at Shannon and Gander, in both directions.
The 62M stopped at Shannon, in both directions,
sometimes Gander westbound.

BA84
 
planespotting
Posts: 3026
Joined: Sat Apr 17, 2004 4:54 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:15 pm

Quoting RIXrat (Reply 8):
The flight crew's minder was usually the radio operator who was in charge of the coms and spoke English

Great strategy by the Russians - keep the communications (and therefore the most important part of the flight) in the hands of the most politically reliable person on the plane.

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.

Wow. That is probably the best "I was hanging out at the airport one day when ..." story I've ever heard. You should win the airliners.net anecdote of the year award.

Well done.

[Edited 2013-09-26 12:44:33]
Do you like movies about gladiators?
 
User avatar
Focker
Posts: 131
Joined: Sat Jan 22, 2011 8:37 pm

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:49 pm

Quoting BA84 (Reply 34):
You may have guessed what happened in my case.
We eventually married, and settled in my home town of Vancouver.

Great story!

Quoting planespotting (Reply 47):
You should win the airliners.net anecdote of the year award.

  
 
Birdwatching
Posts: 3707
Joined: Sat Sep 06, 2003 10:48 am

RE: During Cold War, Where Did Aeroflot Crews Stay?

Thu Sep 26, 2013 7:53 pm

What an amazing thread! Reading it for the last hour or so has been way better than watching a movie!
Born in 1982, I'm too young to remember a lot about the Soviet Union, but I did actually travel to the GDR once as a child. We had relatives in Eastern Germany back then so we traveled across the border once to visit then. This was not in Berlin but in a rural area. I was about 6 and I still remember some details about the East. It's funny how you have a different perception of things as a child, but the most memorable experience for me was the complete lack of colors. Everything was gray, brown, tan, black; the houses, towns, the furniture and interiors of the houses, the dishes, curtains... even the clothes... compared to the west at least. It was like being in an old movie. The only colors they had were light blue and light green.

Sorry for this non-aviation post, I wish I could some memories of a flight on an old Soviet aircraft... but I had to wait until 2008 to experience this  

Soren   
All the things you probably hate about travelling are warm reminders that I'm home

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