Memorial of Verdun
Text & Pictures: Eddy Devroey - ©SBAP 2012 

Again to the Republic of Belarus, this was an opportunity to visit the aviation museum in Minsk, in my list of ‘to do’s’ for quite some time. As a matter of fact it is the only museum of its kind in Belarus and also rather new. The museum was founded in 2009 and opened its doors on the 4th of July that year.  Hmm isn’t it ironic they choose the United States independent day for this occasion. Well it’s purely coincidental since they have no notion of American holidays. It took me some effort to get there since Minsk is HUGE and road signs are not widely spread. I planned a visit earlier this year when we were there in winter but weather conditions were a bit awkward so we had to cancel these plans. But no regrets my patience was rewarded and on the 29th of May on a nice sunny day I arrived at the museum where all planes are displayed in open air.    
Today there are 30 planes and helicopters in the exhibition outside on a field next to an airfield that is in use by DOCAAF and a local aero-club for parachutists.
(Borovaja airfield). For an explanation on DOCAAF check my previous reports on Belarus. It’s an awesome sight to find all notorious former Soviet Union military planes at one spot. Once these planes were only known from blurry bad quality pictures and a Nato codename. Far away behind the iron curtain there was a lot of speculation about their aeronautical and technical abilities. These days all secrets are gone and we can see these planes at airshows all over and different museums. So here they are, all lined up next to one another: Yak, Mig, Tupolev, Sukhoi, Mil MI helicopters, Ilyushin, Antonov..  Also a former Tsjechoslowakian L29 Delfin trainer. As I was walking around taking pictures a man in overall came up to me. He spoke a few words of English and with my equivalent knowledge of Russian we managed to have a little chat. He worked at the museum as one of the founders and is a retired USSR military pilot.  He was so friendly to open some of the planes and show me a look inside. 
This way I could explore the cockpit of Mil MI-24 battleship helicopter formerly known to the NATO as the Hind but nicknamed flying tank or crocodile by Russian pilots. Then out of the blue my friendly guide came up with a pilot Helmet and took me to check out the cockpit of the L29 Delfin for a little photo session. As he told he flew himself this plane a long time ago as student in the military.  Much work has to be done to maintain all planes in acceptable condition and to constantly improve the exhibition. They try to get around 4 extra planes a year. Not far away in the field one of those ‘new’ planes could be seen and looking at the state of it I really think restoring these planes is a full time job for many people here. It’s a difficult job since the planes are standing outside and there are no shelters available. With temperatures in winter of sometimes as low as -30 degrees and summers with often 30 degrees or more on the positive site the paint and metal are under attack as I could see with some models.   They do the best they can with the limited financial resources they have. 

Well closing time arrived and my nice guide had much work to be done so we left but with the promise to be back soon as I found out there is a possibility to have a flight with a Yak 18.  To be continued…


The museum and the flying club (Google earth) The leaflet of the museum
Commemorating place of the Aces of the Soviet aviation  
Yakovlev Yak-18 "Max"  
Aéro L-29 "Delfin"  
The "Delfin" pilot office  
Lisunov Li-2 "Cab"... ...the sovietic DC-3
Antonov An-26 "Curl"  

Ilyushin Il-18 "Coot"
Tupolev Tu-134 " Crusty"  

Mil-Mi-1 "Hare"
Kamov Ka-26 "Hoodlum"  

Mil-Mi-2 "Hopelite"

Mil-Mi-8 "Hip-C"  
Mil-Mi-26 "Halo"  
Mil-Mi-24D "Hind-D"  
From the cockpit A prt of the pilot instrument panel
Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-15UTI "Midget"  
Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-17 "Fresco" Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-19 "Farmer"
Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-21 "Fishbed"  
Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-23UB "Flogger-C" Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-27 "Flogger-D"
Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-25PU "Foxbat-C"  
Mikoan-Gurevich Mig-29 "Fulcrum"  
Sukhoi Su-7 "Fitter-C"  
Sukhoi Su-17M-2 "Fitter-D"  
Sukhoi Su-24M "Fencer-D"  
Sukhoi Su-25 "Frogfoot-A" With mission markings...
Yakovlev Yak-25 "Flashlight"  
Yakovlev Yak-28 "Brewer"  
A variant of the Yak-25 with a bomber operator in the nose Amazing design...
Yakovlev Yak-40 "Codling" in restauration Another Mig-25 (PDS model) waiting to be restored

Ejection seat trainer

Typical Russian look The modern side of the flying club
Mil-Mi-2 (EW-225CC) still active A second one (EW-136AO)
Yakovlev Yak-52 (White 25) was too far to get a correct picture Antonov An-2 "Colt" (EW-325AB) used sightseeing flight and para jump
An-2 (EW-84636) in poor state
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