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Boy at controls of TU154

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Boy at controls of TU154

Old 25th Sep 2020, 11:50
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Boy at controls of TU154

1987, I boarded an Aeroflot TU154 TBS/LED with a small group of Americans.
After the meal, and half the time elapsed of the 3hrs15 flt. The a/c. made slight
turns, to the right, then the left, then again the right. This continued for some
minutes, before resuming a straight ahead direction. Shortly afterwards, the
captain, with his oversized hat, walked through the cabin to the centre galley.
His eyes appeared to be focused of a carton (200) Marlboro cigarettes above
my head. I joined him at the galley, and asked if he spoke any other language
apart from Russian and Georgian. He replied "Some German, I've been to DDR".
I told him that I would give him the carton of Marlboro, for a visit to the flight deck.
He agreed. As he opened the cockpit door, my breath was taken away.
Apart from the instruments being in a calming "Lime Green" the large flight deck
was home to his wife, pushing a stroller (buggy) back and forward to pacify a
very young child. a radio officer with equally large hat, The F/O in the right seat.
Seated in the P1 seat was a 13 year old boy, without hat, The teenager was the
captains son, responsible for the strange movements. I asked if a/c was now on
autopilot, He replied "Show him Igor", to which his son flicked the a/p switch.
On finals into LED, strong crosswinds caused a go-around, and on second attempt,
landed, bursting and shredded four of the six tyres on the port side undercarriage.
Have no fear, a man on a bicycle, pulling a large red fire extinguisher arrived to put
the flames out, still engulfing the four tyres "Welcome to Leningrad".

Lance Shippey
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 11:58
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Correct me if I'm wrong but do I not recall an Aeroflot flight crashing a few years back and it was discovered there had been a child at the controls?
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 12:28
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You are quite correct .A-310 , Aeroflot 593 , 24 March 1994 .
Tragic event likely caused by a child at the controls.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 15:59
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Sometime in the early nineties I flew from Mineralnye Voda MRV to Stepanakert in the disputed, besieged, rocketed and unrecognised Republic of Nagorno Karabagh. NKR was by that point fully Armenia, all the Azeri population having been booted out. This of course made the Azeris rather hostile, and they retaliated by blockading the enclave and lobbing all sorts of incoming into it. I was heading in there to report on the war between Armenia and Azerbaijan. The only way in was on a TU-134 operated by Air Karabagh or some-such - one of the hundreds of Aeroflot spin-offs, the 'babyflots' as we called them then. NKR was surrounded and blockaded, although there was a narrow corridor across the mountains from Stepanakert to Armenia, over which the aircraft flew. A civilian flight into an active warzone - there were several such opportunities in the former and collapsing Soviet Union in the early '90s, and several aircraft were shot down operating them.
It was snowing when I arrived from Moscow at MRV, to catch the flight to Stepanakert. In those days at Russian domestic airports you waited to board not in the terminal, but out on the tarmac, in a line behind a red and white sign board with the destination written on it. You did this even when it was minus heaven-knows-what and the snow was blowing horizontally. An old Gaz 6x6 truck with a MiG engine mounted on the back was driving slowly up and down the taxiway, blasting ice and snow off the tarmac.
Reader, I confess I tarried as long as I could in what passed for the departure area, unwilling to be frozen, deafened and blasted. But eventually a fearsome babushka forced me out into the cold and into the queue for my flight. Imagine my surprise to see that at least half of my fellow passengers were circumventing the Azeri fuel blockade on Stepanakert by carrying, as hand luggage, 20 litre 'jerry cans' of petrol. And, because this was Russia, most of them were smoking like Siberian petrochemical plants.
TU-134 doesn't have overhead lockers. It has what used to be known as 'hat-shelves'. So my fellow passengers stuffed their jerry cans of petrol between their legs, in the hat-racks, in the aisle. The hostie poked her head out of the front galley, took a look, and said 'No Smoking. Seat Belts. We are going now". That was the last we saw of her, as we departed across the mountains in a fog of petrol fumes and cigarette smoke.
You'll have worked out by my post here that our flying bomb didn't explode. Lots of other things did, in the week I was there, but the flight in remains stuck in my mind as the most singularly terrifying aviation experience of my life. To get out, I hitch-hiked on an Armenian army truck across the corridor to Yerevan. That took 48 freezing hours and we were shelled on the way, but it was still better than the flight in.

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Old 25th Sep 2020, 19:14
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A-310 , Aeroflot 593 , 24 March 1994

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aeroflot_Flight_593
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 19:24
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Great post rcsa, very well written and amusing.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 19:36
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There are also stories of Russian airliners being treated like buses - when all the seats are filled, the remaining passengers stand in the aisle and just hang on.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 20:19
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I recall on a TU 154, An elderly woman boarding with a cage
of some sort. She went directly into the forward W,C. after
entering the aircraft. She remained there for take off Came
out for the flight, and returned to the W,C. for landing in LED.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 20:38
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Originally Posted by Lance Shippey View Post
1987, I boarded an Aeroflot TU154 TBS/LED with a small group of Americans.
After the meal, and half the time elapsed of the 3hrs15 flt. The a/c. made slight
turns, to the right, then the left, then again the right. This continued for some
minutes, before resuming a straight ahead direction. Shortly afterwards, the
captain, with his oversized hat, walked through the cabin to the centre galley.
His eyes appeared to be focused of a carton (200) Marlboro cigarettes above
my head. I joined him at the galley, and asked if he spoke any other language
apart from Russian and Georgian. He replied "Some German, I've been to DDR".
I told him that I would give him the carton of Marlboro, for a visit to the flight deck.
He agreed. As he opened the cockpit door, my breath was taken away.
Apart from the instruments being in a calming "Lime Green" the large flight deck
was home to his wife, pushing a stroller (buggy) back and forward to pacify a
very young child. a radio officer with equally large hat, The F/O in the right seat.
Seated in the P1 seat was a 13 year old boy, without hat, The teenager was the
captains son, responsible for the strange movements. I asked if a/c was now on
autopilot, He replied "Show him Igor", to which his son flicked the a/p switch.
On finals into LED, strong crosswinds caused a go-around, and on second attempt,
landed, bursting and shredded four of the six tyres on the port side undercarriage.
Have no fear, a man on a bicycle, pulling a large red fire extinguisher arrived to put
the flames out, still engulfing the four tyres "Welcome to Leningrad".

Lance Shippey
While I wasn't that child, I probably knew that Captain. I grew up in TBS, and my late Dad (RIP) was friends with most of the pilots of Aeroflot's Georgian Directorate (what in the West would be called TBS crew base). I spent a LOT of time in TU5 cockpits, and it was TU5 crews that ruined me for any other profession probably before age 5. TBS-VKO and back numerous times, TBS-PRG and back once. Those are some of my fondest childhood memories.
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 20:50
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Having been born on the wrong side of the curtain, I've done it all:
- Hand-flying an Antonov 24 on the captain's lap as a 6-year old. It had a pretty good flight-director. I was told "just keep the cross centered"!
- traveling in the cargo compartment of an Antonov (and later even ATR in the early nineties), holding on to the cargo net, because there was no space in the cabin
- playing with the revolver of an air marshall in the cabin, while he removed the bullets and conveniently used them as earplugs
- jumpseating in the navigator's den of a Tu134 with a glass nose

My dad and senior colleagues have even better stories, which I cannot quote here

Ah, happy days!
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Old 25th Sep 2020, 21:36
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Airplaneski 1995

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Old 26th Sep 2020, 03:53
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Well, Munster, despite the length of that it was really quite an emotive work, bringing back clear memories of Aeroflot flights 40+ years ago, and much nostalgia. Will not bore anyone with the trivia. Thank you.
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 06:35
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I attended an after dinner talk given by a former U.K. air attache to Moscow in the early to mid eighties. This chap was a former RAF fast jet pilot who lost his medical mid career but was keen to explore other opportunities. He described his internal Russian flights on Aeroflot as some the most fun flying he ever done. He dryly noted every single destination seemed to have an obviously broken Aeroflot Tupolev easily viewed by the passengers.

He recalled that the only in flight meal that Aeroflot ever had was Chicken. On one flight, they boarded, just after the door was closed there was an announcement. Despite knowing a little Russian he didn’t pick up the full meaning. His Russian minder said to him “Oh I guess no chicken then”. It was only then he realise what was going to happen;- the planes cabin pressurisation system was U/S but they were still going. The hostess appeared pushing a trolley piled high with oxygen cylinders and masks and started handing one to each passenger. When he got his cylinder he noticed the gauge showed it as only half full. His minder did the descent thing and swaps it for his which indicates full. The time on oxygen was about an hour, after which his cylinder gauge is still showing full, so the gauge on his was clearly U/S. They landed without incident and it became just another day flying Aeroflot.

Last edited by Bagheera S; 26th Sep 2020 at 12:30.
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 08:09
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Chuguev UKHW: Yesterday evening, engine failure, Crew and 22 cadets were killed

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Old 26th Sep 2020, 08:21
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Originally Posted by kenparry View Post
There are also stories of Russian airliners being treated like buses - when all the seats are filled, the remaining passengers stand in the aisle and just hang on.
GB Airways used to do that on the Viscount from Tangier to Gib.(Usually kids standing in front of a parent)
I had to stand when I travelled on the flight deck of a BEA Viscount Inverness - Sumburgh and 4 weeks later Kirkwall - Glasgow 'cos there was no jump seat. In both cases, the captain told me to stand behind his seat for takeoffs and landings.
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 09:18
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Thanks Olster!
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 11:20
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Wonderful thread and love the stories. A world where things were different was more healthy than a world where everything is the same. Discuss

The Airplaneski documentary is a wonderful time piece, as was the similar documentary of that period on the Caspian Sea Monster,

In saying that, if you still want to experience cockpit rides on commercial flights, dubious aircraft, unusual fellow passengers (and their carry-on cargo), airports that don't exactly look like airports and quant ground and inflight procedures, this can be experienced everyday if you confine your flying to a 1,500 mile or so wide band North and South of the equator, on the African continent.
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Old 26th Sep 2020, 22:23
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I remember a lecturer on my MSc course at Cranfield years ago recounting a story of the time he was advising an airline in an African country (I forget which one). He flew the line a couple of times and was readily invited to join the flight crew. On one occasion he mentioned he had a PPL and they let him fly the plane right down to approach. He handed the plane back but the pilot in the other seat but was “offered” the landing which he eventually managed to refuse, I seem to remember he still sat in the captain’s seat whilst the FO landed and the captain observed from the jump seat. The plane was full of passengers!
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Old 27th Sep 2020, 08:17
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I heard of a flight somewhere in the wilds of Siberia where all passengers were seated ready for takeoff, when an engineer appeared in the cabin carrying what was obviously part of an aircraft. He paraded up and down the aisle then left. Shortly afterwards the captain announced that the engineer had been carrying a spare part that was needed for the onward flight. He invited the passengers to contribute to the cost of the part, or they were staying where they were.
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Old 28th Sep 2020, 17:09
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Russian Snow Blower

Some pictures of a snow clearing machine at Nizhnevartovsk airport (Siberia), April 1991. I believe the engine is a Nene.





A detail of the engine, seems like an igniter has gone missing:



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