Sunday, March 3, 2013

► SOUTH AFRICA: (Pics) Antonov An-2 biplane completes epic 20'000km journey from Russia to South Africa.

ExecujetAn Antonov An-2 christened Anushka (Little Annie in Russian) (MCN 1G226-49 | RA-33390) has completed its 20'000km journey from northern Russia to South Africa, where it is to be used to carry out charitable work supporting humanitarian causes in southern Africa. Donated by Russian airline UTair (UT) with South Africa's ExecuJet set to provide the necessary support and maintenance, Anushka, a former cargo hauler, will now operate out of Lanseria Airport, Johannesburg under the "Just Love" banner.

The 'Just Love' charity will promote education and enterprise through the inspiration of flight by developing aviation awareness among young people, particularly those in poor and/or rural areas. It will also transport aide, personnel and supplies into difficult to access areas.

The delivery flight left Cape Kamenniy, Russia, in August 2012 and has flown across snow-bound Europe, past Gibraltar, over the Sahara Desert and down the west coast of Africa. Countries covered by the flight included: Russia via Ukraine, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Spain, Algeria, Niger, Nigeria, Cameroon, Equatorial Guinea, Gabon, Congo, Angola, Botswana before finally arriving in South Africa. 

The more direct route – through the Middle East, North East and East Africa – was blocked by conflict and crisis situations in the Middle East and North East Africa. Because of unforeseen delays – climatological, bureaucratic and political – the flight took two-and-a-half months to complete.

The aircraft was flown by a bi-national crew of four – a Russian pilot (Sergei Bykov), navigator/copilot (Sergei Dmitrenko), flight engineer (Alexander Achimov), and a British woman copilot/trainee (Tracey Curtis-Taylor).
 Antonov An-2 "Anushka"
The Antonov An-2 "Anushka"
Our average ground speed was 190 km/h,” reported Curtis-Taylor. “That’s slow! Most of the way, we had a bit of a tail wind, which is very useful in an aircraft like this. We were operating at maximum weight. Its short field performance is phenomenal.

The trip celebrates the 65th Anniversary of Antonov aircraft of which the An-2 was the
first highly successful type built. This particular aircraft is unchanged from the original 1948 design and is the largest single engine bi-plane ever built.

AN-2 Anushka's Trip from Russia to South Africa

The original planned route
The original planned route

Antonov 2 trip from Russia to South Africa
Antonov 2 trip from Russia to South Africa

Antonov 2 trip from Russia to South Africa

Antonov 2 trip from Russia to South Africa

Antonov 2 trip from Russia to South AfricaAntonov 2 trip from Russia to South AfricaAntonov 2 trip from Russia to South Africa

Anushka arrives in Johannesburg
Anushka arrives in Johannesburg (Execujet)
Anushka was manufactured in Poland on 3 September 1987 and designed to carry 1600kg of cargo or 12 passengers. At first it was a part of Barnaul United Air Group, then (from 1999 to 2006) – it went tothe  Regional State Unitary Enterprise “Altai Airlines”. Starting from 2006 the An-2 was operated by UTair-Cargo CJSC. Overall, she has flown 4'675 hours, performed 5'599 landings and undergone scheduled repair three times. 

Read the Blog here.