International Aviation and Space Salon Exhibition -
Moscow Zhukovsky, Russia -
18-23 August 2009
During a week in Moscow (as part of an aviation tour) I was able to visit the 2009 MAKS aerospace exhibition. Over the past years I have visited several western aviation exhibitions like the ones at Farnborough International Airshow and Le Bourget Paris-Airshow. MAKS is held in a small town of aircraft science & technology, called Zhukovsky, which houses the major national testing facility Gromov - Flight Research Institute. As an aviation professional and photographer I thought it would a good change to see new Russian aircraft types in action. Additionally I would have an opportunity to view the Russian aviation industry up close at a very interesting airbase.
We left our hotel very early in order to beat the traffic to Zhukovsky. First we travelled along the massive Moscow city ring and then routed via the small and forgotten airport of Bykovo (40 km south-east of Moscow). Luckily it was a trade-day and the traffic was not too bad. Our bus was directed along the edge of a massive taxi-way and we were offloaded and walked towards the show entry booths for sign up and our badges. The lines were not too bad and I was on the official MAKS grounds within 20 minutes. The Zhukovsky base is enormous and I noticed numerous aircraft parked and stored with-in the complex. Zhukovsky has one of the longest runways in Europe (5403 m) and was used as a backup landing site for the Buran (Russian space shuttle) program.
The first ever show was called Mosaeroshow-92, and was held in 1992. Since 1993, it was renamed to its current name and is a bi-centennial show. MAKS is an important event in the Russian aviation and space business. Although it started mainly as an entertainment event, the show soon became a marketplace where Russian aircraft manufacturers could find export contracts and Russian air carriers could find foreign contacts. The whole event became important through CIS and neighbouring countries, due to similarities of their markets.
This year, the show was opened with a few minutes off silence, after a midair tragedy at the start of the show, involving two SU-27 fighter jets. The “Russian Knights” aerobatics team squadron leader Igor Tkachenko was killed in the collision, and the team decided not perform its routine at this years show.
It was still early so I decided to explore the static line and work my way up to the active runway. The static contained the whole array of civil and military Russian aircrafts and helicopters. I was really impressed to see the cold war aircraft types such as the massive Antonov AN-22, A-50 (IL-76 radar version), Tupolev Tu-160 and Tupolev Tu-95MS sleek bomber on display. At the very end of the line-up I spotted two legendary Russian aircrafts, the Antonov An-124 with its giant cargo door open and the immaculate Tu-144 in vintage Aeroflot colour; for me this was the high-light of the show. Off-course in between all that, the new IL-96-400T, the twin engine Tu-334, An-148 and the Russian regional aircraft Sukhoi Super Jet 100 also caught my eye!
Around noon I turned my attention towards the exhibition halls and pavilions. I didn’t know what to expect from the MAKS aerospace exhibition but it felt it to be very western organized; with lots of business men and photographers walking around. I decided to visit the foreign exhibition pavilion which contained the a/c manufactures EADS, Boeing and many more western aerospace companies. Then I visited the Sukhoi Company (JSC) exhibition hall, which was very impressive with lots of next generation aircraft models and a/c interiors on display. Several of the charming Sukhoi hostesses presented me with brochures and leaflets for me to take home.
After a quick sober lunch and a visit to the men’s room I decided to walk out to the Airshow display line next to the runway. I was amazed on how close to the runway centreline I was able to position myself. The weather was improving and the sun was even coming out. I watched the twin engine Tu-334 and the Sukhoi Super jet 100 doing its flying display. Personally I found the flying display to be very sober. I was expecting more Russian air force aircrafts to participate? Perhaps due to the financial crises the flying display was minimized. However I did enjoy the French aerobatic team Patrouille de France in Alpha-jet and the loud Su-35 multirole fighter.
After a quick sober lunch and a viAt 17.00 the entire (spotting) group had to assemble at the coach. Walking back the whole 3,5 kilometres I took the opportunity for further pictures under different light. There are plenty of abandoned/stored Tu-154s, Tu-204s, IL-96 and IL-76 parked next to the hangers. Due to the line of military personal standing along the complete stretch of taxi-way and along the ramps it was almost impossible to take further pictures. Overall I enjoyed the MAKS exhibition and my feet felt very tired when I climbed back in the coach for the ride back to the hotel in time for a cold beer.
Contains Info from Wikipedia, the free encyclopaedia - www.aviasalon.com