Our next adventure took us to the south with the promise of an An-28 ride, and, as seems to be the usual form when visiting a small airfield, we were greeted with a wonderfully warm welcome. Evsino airfield is small grass strip and is the home to the grandly named Novosibirsk Aviation Technical Sports Club, ROSTO. The club started life in 1990 as a parachute only operation but quickly expanded to include gliding, sport aircraft flying and helicopters.
The first question we were asked on arrival was "who wants to do a parachute jump?" - cue Steve wondering where the tour company stood if anyone was to have an accident while jumping! We all decided however that simply a flight would be good enough; much to Steve and Olga's relief. A shiny An-28 was sitting on the grass ready for us and we were handed over to Nataly who would be our safety guide, or as I called her "our stewardess".
We stepped into the back via a wooden ladder leaning against the rear of the aircraft as the ramp which would normally be fitted had been removed and interior doors had been built to make for an easy departure for parachutists. We were then herded into the front of the aircraft and sat on the bench seats running along the length of the fuselage on both sides. We were encouraged to squeeze up as more and more jumpers climbed into the small fuselage, with so many packed in that quite a few were sitting or lying on the floor!
We couldn't help but note that although Nataly was staying inside the aircraft with us that she was also still wearing a parachute. Wondering if she knew something about this AN-28 that we didn't it was also quite amusing to note that her attire was completed by a pair of flip-flops! The engines fired up and very quickly we started to move towards the runway, with the wooden ladder simply being left to fall down as we taxied away from our parking spot. We were very rapidly airborne and climbing like an express lift when Nataly jokingly reminded us not to follow the jumpers out of the rear as we reached the designated height and drop-zone!
After lots of shouting and high-fives the jumpers exited in double quick fashion leaving just the tandem parachutists left to waddle over to the open doors, give us the thumbs up, and exit the AN-28 backwards. We then held on to dear life as Nataly closed the rear doors and we spiralled back to terra firma and in no time at all we were back on the ground and given free rein to wander the airfield to take our photos.
Apart from the 'normal' aircraft that we had by now come to expect littered this kind of airfield in various states of condition, there was however one anomaly in the shape of a wingless and tail-less Ju-52 which certainly seemed out of place at Evisno. Although the Soviet Air Force and Aeroflot did operate these iron machines after WWII, it was still not something you actually expected to see and apparently this aircraft served with the Luftwaffe during WWII and after the war was flown by the Soviet Air Force before it crashed in the 1950s in the Chita region.
After the thrill of the An-28 flight we took our photos and then the long and boring journey back to the hotel next to Tolmachevo-Novosibirsk airport for some dinner ahead of yet another early start the next morning.photo/serial list]