When the pandemic first started to majorly impact international air travel, many airlines decided to park their unused planes in desert storage. For example, many Asian airlines like Cathay Pacific and Singapore Airlines are storing their jumbos in Alice Springs.
Many planes end up in desert ‘boneyards’ at the end of their career, too. But despite Russia’s enormous size, the country has few genuine deserts where you’d store decommissioned aircraft – indeed, many aircraft end up in urban environments, quietly decaying out in the suburbs.
@_klary, a Russian journalist and drone pilot, has shared some remarkable drone shots of Eastern European boneyards filled with all sorts of obscure aircraft from the former Soviet Union – planes that many Westerners may have never had the chance to fly in or even see (other than maybe in some Reagan-era fearmongering news bulletin).
Take this bird’s eye view he shared of an urban boneyard in the village of Grushino in eastern Ukraine. Soviet-era fighter jets like Sukhoi Su-34s and Mikoyan MiG-29s can be seen parked haphazardly in an abandoned lot, alongside smaller ‘trainer’ aircraft and a passenger jet that has ‘CCCP’ (i.e. ‘USSR’) emblazoned on its wings.
It serves as a poignant reminder of the perils of the Cold War when the USA and the USSR were locked in an ever-escalating arms race for world domination – as well as how drastically the collapse of the Soviet Union continues to shape daily life and politics in the former Eastern Bloc.
In a world where air travel is largely dominated by Boeing and Airbus’ planes, it’s easy to forget that the USSR (and later Russia) had its own ecosystem of passenger jets: like these Tupolev and Ilyushin planes @_klary captured in Moscow.
Perhaps the most striking photo he’s ever taken is of this abandoned Antonov An-24 turboprop that’s literally had a hotel built around it, just off the M4 “Don” highway. Our intrepid drone pilot explains that “the owners of the hotel for truckers decided to make it different from the others.”
Different is indeed the operative term…
If you thought Russian fighter planes was the scariest thing you could see with a drone, check out this Australian photographer who specialises in capturing footage of sharks near your favourite beaches…