An Air Koryo Ilyushin IL-62 in Beijing, ready for boarding. Photo by Bernie Leighton.
To fly on an Ilyushin IL-62 in 2012 is not something many people would think of doing, let alone going to the lengths I did to enjoy the privilege.
On October 20, 2012 after months of planning, amounts of Euro cash that had bank-tellers convinced I was a spy; a lovely jaunt to Beijing on Air Macau and a visit to Datangshan, I was standing at the check in counter for Air Koryo in Terminal 2 at Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK). Oddly, and unfortunately for collectors of rare boarding passes, flights to Pyongyang are issued on Air China stock.
Chinese police, and politeness didn’t really allow me to capture the sight of the sheer amount of cargo the North Korean people were taking back but it was the contents I found more curious than the volume. A cursory search of the bindles and exposed boxes showed mostly flat-screen TVs and other completely civilian commercial goods.
LOT Polish Airlines started service to New York in 1973 using the Ilyushin IL-62. Check out those paintings. Photo from LOT.
Hopefully the title of this story makes total sense to you already. What the heck does LOT Polish Airlines celebrating 40 years of flying from Warsaw (WAW) to New York (JFK) have to do with James Bond? Oh just wait.
It was a big step for LOT to start their Warsaw to New York flights in 1973 using the Ilyushin IL-62. “Taking into consideration Poland’s political situation at that time, the launching of airline operations to the US in 1973 should be recognized as a breakthrough in Poland’s relations with the West,” said Sebastian Mikosz, President of LOT Polish Airlines. “We are proud of such a long tradition of this flight, being the most popular among our passengers. Thanks to the well timed and plentiful connections, our North Atlantic flights also generate a big flow of traffic via our Warsaw hub.”