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 this and set up an 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.
RubyStar Airlines operates numerous IL-76TDs, but I only got to fly on EW-78836 – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
What’s better than flying on an IL-76MD like I did in North Korea? Flying on an IL-76TD somewhere outside of the most restrictive, hostile-to-photographers country on Earth, obviously.
Inside the Navigator’s station of an IL-76TD (in flight) – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
So, you probably want to know what an MD does differently than a TD. Letters and a lack of observer’s post/tail gunner in the rear area under the tail. For a civilian IL-76TD, it is faired over. Sometimes, this fairing is done crudely – indicating MD-to-TD conversion most likely sometime after the collapse of the USSR. That’s really it. They’re the same in every other way. Same Soloviev engines, same flight deck, same lavatory nook.
Our Antonov AN-12 ride for the day – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
Yes, you read the title correctly. Mostly.
The crew rest “Business Class” area of an AN-12 operated by RubyStar Airlines – Photo: Bernie Leighton | AirlineReporter
It’s not technically business class. It’s the crew rest area. As you can see, it looks like it belongs on either a Soviet fishing trawler or submarine.
Even with my widest lens, I could not get a photo of the bathyscaphe-like curved office to cargo hold join. But the adjective of submarine-like is really all one can say. But I recently got to experience flying in this special “Business Class,” and of course wanted to share my adventure.