This An-30 belongs to Aviakompany Grodno. They’re based in Grodno. Creative name… – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
The AntonovÂ An-24Â is one versatile aircraft.Â That aircraft lead to the An-26, which then lead to Â the An-32. Heck, the Saudis gave the Ukrainian government money to design the An-132. Reasons were given for the latter, I am sure.
There’s the view! – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
All of those just haul people or cargo, though. BORING! What if you needed to observe something? What if you needed airborne survey? What if you wanted to do better cartography? Enter the rarest An-24 variant: the An-30Â — only 123 were ever made.
It’s distinct from all the other An-24s in the world because, well… just look at it.Â The glazed nose for the navigator really sticks out and illustrates the fact that this is a rare breed of Antonov. It does more than look cool, though.
Our chariot, EW-85748, on the ground at Minsk National Airport – Photo : Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
From the [AR]vault: This story was originally published on June 8, 2015.
The Tupelov Tu-154 is a classic airliner that many AvGeeks admire, but unfortunately it will no longer be able to fly with-in continental Europe. I was lucky enough to snag a seat on the last flight, a Tu-154M on Belavia to Minsk (MSQ).
You see, many inÂ Europe were getting upset with the rareÂ Soloviev D-30 engine gracing their passenger airports. The noise and the environmental impact did not make many friends. It is too bad, because it’s not like the 737-800 is replacing the Tu-154M on a one-to-one basis with every airline operating them at a speed comparable to that of light anyway. Why even bother other than to make a point?
My friend, who happens to divide his time between Paris and Minsk, runs an aviation enthusiast tour company and asked if I wanted to join a group to give the Tu-154 a send-off from Europe. I packed my things and ended up in Geneva (GVA) on May 29th, 2015.
This is the oldest An-12 still flying, which was recently repainted. EW-338TI is an An-12BP of RubyStar. Here it is in Vitebsk – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
But Bernie, you already flew on an Antonov An-12 last year! Do you really think I’d settle for one An-12? Come on now, who am I?
Since I was already in Minsk, after having made my way there on a Tu-154M, there had to be another plane to fly on, or some other diversion to pass the time in Minsk. Well, other than the ominously-named “Texas Show Bar” in the hotel. That place was scary!
Anyhow. Thankfully, my friend had already taken care of thisÂ and set up anÂ An-12 with quite the livery! Built in 1961 for the Soviet Air Force, its history becomes murky after the collapse of the USSR. We know it was floating around Bulgaria in 2001 and, heck, it is unclear if it was even built in Voronezh, Tashkent, or Irkutsk! It didn’t matter — I wanted it to fly — with me on it.