Severny-Novosibirsk (UNCC) - 11 July 2009

After the farcical nature of the main airport in Novosibirsk the old domestic gateway was a completely different matter luckily

Novosibirsk is the third largest city in Russia after Moscow and St. Petersburg and this presumably was the reason that they felt the need to have two airports. The city saw huge growth in population and industrialisation in Soviet times and because of this was given the nickname of "the Chicago of Siberia". It is also home to a huge reservoir called the Ob Sea which was created to serve the hydroelectric power station that was built to serve the city as it was growing so quickly. We drove over the dam on the way to the airport and from ground level it certainly looked big enough to be a sea as we couldn't see the opposite side.

After a shot minibus drive we swept up the tree-lined avenue to be greeted by the quintessential old style Russian terminal building. They certainly don't make them like this anymore; with Roman like pillars and high doors and windows you can just imagine a scene where old propliners await the passengers on other side.

Unfortunately the airfield is almost deserted of activity but is still home to Novosibirsk Avia with their immaculate fleet of An-24s and An-30s, with the former mostly sporting a retro style colour scheme that seem to fit in perfectly with the old terminal building. After the obligatory security checks we picked up our guide and began a leisurely stroll around the airport in the hot sun.

There are many aircraft stored on this field and this was the first time we encountered any An-30 aircraft. In fact the active aircraft parked next to the control tower wes the one we were originally supposed to fly on, but the lack of people on this trip unfortunately made the cost prohibitive. All the An-30s are owned by Novosibirsk Avia and most were painted in their attractive red and while colour scheme, with a couple in the old Aeroflot scheme, presumably being used for spares.

There was a nice mix of aircraft and helicopters neatly arranged along the taxiways where the grass was beginning to reclaim the land back. Some would obviously never fly again but there were quite a few that looked in great condition and hopefully these might escape sometime in the future. The thought of our guide here is that the airfield will close for good eventually.

At one end of the airfield was a Mil rework facility but we were not allowed to wander close to that unfortunately. In the distance we could see many interesting helicopters in lots of interesting colour schemes or simply in bare metal. One of the most interesting helicopters we could see was a Mi-10, and luckily this was close enough to photograph with the dreaded heat-haze effect kicking in.

Close to the Mil facility we were directed to the maintenance base where there were An-2s and An-24s scattered around in the weeds including a couple of An-24 cockpit sections quickly being burred in the long grass. Inside the hangar there was an An-30 and an An-26 being worked on. We were invited aboard the An-30 to have a look around; the cockpit was stripped but being put back together and we also had a chance to see what was inside that large glass nose. Surprisingly we also found an American registered MD900 helicopter - a very strange aircraft to find here for sure.

We then strolled back to the terminal and had a chance to shoot an An-24RV against the backdrop of the magnificent terminal. Unfortunately it was badly backlit but this scene for me was the classic image that I'll take away with me from this trip.

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