The Intriguing World of Russian Aviation (Pt 1)
There is nothing quite as exciting as the world of Russian Aviation. From the time I was a young child, the idea of Soviet/Russian aviation was intriguing and fun to learn about. Russia is the largest and most vastly diverse country in the entire world. Clocking in at 6.6 million square miles, you can expect a number of different requirements for a flight traveling between St. Petersburg and Moscow, compared to somewhere in the Far East, or Arctic Siberian towns.
There are a few major companies that produce our much loved Russian aircraft. These include Antonov, Tupolev, Illyushin, Yakovlev, and Sukhoi. The various aircraft range from the tiny An-2, which is still used in many remote parts of Russia, up to the large Il-96 Passenger Jet, or giant An-225 cargo jet (with six engines). Russia is also credited with the first Supersonic aircraft that rivaled the European Concorde. The Russian Tupolev Tu-144 was the fastest supersonic airliner in history. However, after only a few flights and a terrible crash, the aircraft was removed from service. As you can see, Russian aircraft are very diverse and unique.
At one point in time, Aeroflot Russian Airlines was the largest airline in the world, far out-sizing even the current giants United, Delta, American. Once the Iron Curtain fell, Aeroflot broke up into a bunch of smaller “Baby-Flots”, and the sad reality of airline safety hit. Many aircraft were placed into hands that did not have the financing or labor to perform the required engineering and mechanic fixes on the aircraft. It would take many years until Russia gained control of the industry and brought Russia back up to a world class standard.
The sad part of Russian Aviation in this age, is that many of the old Russian built aircraft are finding their way to the scrap yard, as many airlines are switching to Boeing and Airbus aircraft. This is a sad fact of life, as nothing looks as incredible as an aging Russian beauty! I was fortunate enough to capture some photos of a few old Antonov aircraft, along with an Aeroflot Tu-134 and Airbus aircraft in Riga, Latvia (RIX).
I will be posting updates about the history, present state, and future of Russian Aviation. This post is mainly to introduce the topic and provide a little background on my favorite airline topic. There is nothing better than seeing a Russian built plane pass by with the Cyrillic writing on it, or hearing the loud roar of a Russian engine. It is nothing short of pure beauty.
Check back soon for more!