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Reserve of Soviet Civil Aviation

A unique "flying" tourism develops in North Korea

North Korea is unique not only because it is the most closed country on the planet, but also because there are already almost forgotten Soviet passenger planes in the rest of the world: IL-62, Tu-134, Tu-154 and even IL-18 . True, it's not easy to fly to them: firstly, these types of aircraft rarely perform regular flights, losing this mission to modern Tu-204 and An-148. Secondly, there is no individual tourism in North Korea: all transfers take place only with the help of a guide, usually as part of a group, and only according to the approved program.

Reserve of Soviet Civil Aviation
Aviation enthusiasts from all over the world take part in such aviation tours. These are people who like planes. As a rule, not from a technical point of view, but simply because the plane is beautiful, and flying on it is a pleasure. This feeling is akin to admiring an enchanting picture in a museum or an autumn walk through a beautiful park in good weather.

19 September 2015 of
Beijing - Pyongyang
Aircraft: Tu-204-100

In the morning, a rare sight could be seen at the airport in Beijing: two Air Koryo airplanes at nearby parking lots. The first flew from Pyongyang on a regular flight, and the second, Tu-204-100 - specially for us.

In the meantime, another Tu-204, the 300 version, has already been towed from the teletrap and starts the engines:

Tu-204 airplane with the P-633 number on which we went to Pyongyang, was built in Ulyanovsk in 2008 year. Initially, he had to go to Red Wings, but the purchase did not take place, and two years later the plane went to North Korea. It is this board that is most often performed by the main daily flight Air Koryo Pyongyang - Beijing.

After 15-minute waiting in line for taxiing took off.

The flight from Beijing to Pyongyang took an hour and a half, which flew in anticipation of a meeting with the most exotic country of all the eighty, in which I still happened to visit. Soft touch of the strip, braking, and - here it is, North Korea.

Two months ago, a new airport building was opened in Pyongyang. The arrival hall is spacious and fresh, but not crowded. Usually, from Pyongyang airport, three or four flights a day are performed: for most North Koreans, trips abroad are impossible, and tourists and business travelers to North Korea come a little. Regular flights from Pyongyang are performed to Beijing, Shenyang, Shanghai and Vladivostok, and not only Air Koryo, but also Air China fly to Beijing.

This year, more than one hundred and forty people took part in the aviation tour to North Korea. This is a record lot, and because of our large number we were divided into six groups, with their own order of flights and excursions each. All groups, except ours, went to one of the central hotels in Pyongyang. And we (“group A”) are in a rather unusual place for guests of North Korea: the Air Koryo guest house outside the city limits.

20 September 2015 of
Mt. Paektu
Aircraft: IL-62M

On the morning of the second day, scheduled flights began on Soviet passenger planes. In the program of our group the first was a very worthy representative of Soviet aviation - long-haul Il-62, at one time the flagship of the international lines of Aeroflot. But first - the receipt of boarding passes and pre-flight inspection in the deserted hall of Pyongyang airport.

We are on board and go to Samion, a small airport in the north of the country. There are no regular flights, but charters with tourists visiting the beautiful mountain range of Paektu fly occasionally to Samion. We will visit there, too, after all, apart from the aviation component, our tour also has an excursion component.

IL-62M with the number P-885 was built in 1979 year. This is the last IL-62 in the world, used for passenger (non-governmental) transportation. However, this aircraft rarely flies, and mostly on special occasions. For example, in August of this year P-885 delivered a choir of the Korean People's Army on a tour to Moscow. And the chorus arrived at once on two Il-62, but the second car, P-881, immediately after that was converted to the government board.

In the Korean Il-62 three passenger saloons. A smooth, unhurried climb and the same decrease - everything creates a sense of solidity and seriousness of the flagship machine. The same feeling was always with me when flying to IL-62 in Russia, when they were still carrying passengers. And today's flight is not typical for the "long-range" Il-62: it takes only half an hour.

There is no airfield as such at the Samyion airport: there is a runway with a small turntable, where our IL-62 will wait for us.

Immediately after landing, the photo session of the aircraft began. In North Korea, a lot of rigor, including those related to photography, and even more so in airports. But if the photo session is given permission, then you can take pictures freely. Sometimes before the next photo session we were asked not to take photos of certain objects near the airport, but when shooting passenger aircraft this did not stop.

A lot of photographed, we took a small bus and drove to the mountain range of Paektu.
The extinct Pektusan volcano has the status of an international biosphere reserve. The highlight of this area is the Tianchi crater lake ("Heavenly Lake"). The funicular that we used leads to the lake.

The lake is located in the crater of the volcano. It is very large; Part of it is in China. Here often come on a tour of a group of North Koreans: who is on buses, and who - in the bodies of trucks.

Back to Pyongyang we flew on the same Il-62.

21 September 2015 of
The border between North and South Korea, Kaesong

The only day without flights. We visited the border with South Korea and in the ancient capital of the state of Koryo - Kaesone. The road to the border took about two hours. Along the way - several Pyongyang shots and roads.

Before talking about the border zone between the two Koreas, a brief background of the issue. At the end of 1945, the USSR and the US agreed on a temporary division of Korea into two parts, the northern part under the control of the USSR, the southern one under US administration. The time division did not work: two countries were formed in the place of united Korea, and so it remains to this day.
In 1950, a war broke out between these countries (North and South Korea) that lasted for three years. Many believe that indirectly it was a war between the USSR and the USA; in North Korea, too, are of the opinion that they fought with the Americans. In any case, Kim Il Sung, the Commander-in-Chief of the North Korean forces and American General Mark Clark, signed the armistice agreement.

The building next to the border in which the armistice agreement was signed, has now become a museum.

Between North and South Korea there is a four-kilometer demilitarized zone.

The border itself passes through service houses that have been preserved since the time of the Korean War. The middle blue house serves for negotiations between the representatives of the two Koreas.

On the way back we were sunset, but we managed to photograph the Arch of reunification (two Koreas) at the entrance to Pyongyang.

In the evening we stopped at a small Pyongyang bar, and then a little photographed the evening Pyongyang.

A source:

To be continued.
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