History has its rubbish heap, elephants their graveyards, and aircraft have a last resting place known as “boneyards.” In many countries, those final parking spots are located in deserts. Lacking those large, arid expanses, however, most Eastern European nations must dump permanently grounded craft wherever (and as discreetly as) they can. Now a Russian drone pilot has captured astonishing shots of mothballed Soviet era craft – some of which much of the world has never seen before.
Russian drone pilot films Soviet planes left to rot
A Russian journalist and drone pilot calling himself @_klary has posted several photographs on his Instagram page that transport those who can still recall the Cold War back to an era when many things were either US or Soviet – period. To a large degree that included aircraft, which meant nations allied with the USSR bought its military and commercial planes from Moscow, and regarded American and other Western options as off limits. The result was that many people in the Soviet sphere were unable to distinguish an Airbus from a Boeing until the Berlin Wall fell, and they began flying around in them.
Yet even today, most Westerners have never even heard of Soviet-built Tupolevs and Ilyushins that once filled eastern skies, much less seen them. Thanks to @_klary and his drone photos, people can make those aviation acquaintances – often in “boneyard” settings as remarkable as the craft they harbor.
Take, for example, the Antonov An-24 turboprop left to go to seed off Russia’s M4 highway, whose hind section has actually become part of a hotel built around it. As @_klary explains (assist to Google Translate) with sublime understatement, “the owners of the hotel for truckers decided to make it different from the others.”
Then there are the Tupolev-204 and Ilushin-76 and -96 planes filmed in their final repose in Moscow, after having been operated by another name Westerners won’t know – VimAvia. Though not a Soviet period company, VimAria operated like one.
“There once was an airline, VimAvia, famous for both its flight cancellations and delays,” @_klary writes. “A flight on VimAvia was always a roulette: they either flew or did not fly. So when they closed, I cannot say that I was upset.”
Another nostalgic walk down Cold War aircraft lane comes with @_klary’s shot of a jumble of decommissioned Soviet fighter jets – mostly Mikoyan MiG-29s and Sukhoi Su-34s – in eastern Ukraine. Now shoved out of the way and left to rust like junkyard cars, it wasn’t all that long ago that the mere mention of “Soviet MiG fighter” inspired more fear and awe than “Russian hackers” do today.
It’s a shame @_klary’s drone doesn’t have a smell sensor that might capture and revive the odors of food served on aged craft flown by Aeroflot – aka “Chicken of the Skies.” Those smells – like many an Aeroflot flight – would not evoke fond and enjoyable memories. But they would allow younger generations to dismally appreciate what might best be described as “the airline food of airline food” Aeroflot dished out – as well as a time when airlines actually served food.
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