On 5 December 2012 the Antonov-2 (An-2) aircraft has departed from Plekhanovo airport (Tyumen) to the Republic of South Africa (SA) within “From ocean to ocean” project. The project is being implemented in cooperation of UTair Aviation with ExecuJet Aviation Group and Liftec Group. Upon arrival in South Africa the An-2 airplane will be transferred to partners to be used for charity activities. UTair veterans and current employees, journalists and just aviation fans have taken part in farewell ceremony in Tyumen.
The flight, unmatched in distance and duration (for this type of aircraft) is going to take at least 15 days; the airplane will fly over Russia and Ukraine, Czech Republic, Germany, France, Croatia, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Mauritania, Senegal, Namibia and South Africa. During this time the veteran of our national civil aviation – the An-2 airplane – will cover more than 20 000 km.
Specially trained UTair crew having large experience in international flights was selected for the project: pilots Sergey Bykov and Sergey Dmitrenko, and aircraft engineer Alexander Achimov. The aircraft maintenance was provided by UTair personnel. The airplane was additionally fitted with up-to-date communication and navigation equipment, allowing it to perform transcontinental flights like a large long-haul liner. A specially fitted system will allow to follow the position and condition of the aircraft via satellite on a real-time basis.
In Kiev the crew will be joined by partners’ representatives – Mark Hill and pilot-trainee Tracey Curtis-Tailor. Marl Hill is an ex Air Force with significant fixed wing and helicopter experience. Tracey Curtis specializes in retro-models; she has a large collection of vintage aircraft and holds a valid pilot license. During the flight she will be responsible for photography and video filming, as well as publishing of updates in social networks and on the special web-site of the flight: www.an2oceans.ru .
The unique An-2 flight is intended to commemorate the 65th anniversary of this multipurpose worker-airplane. An-2 is the only aircraft in the world which has been produced for more than half a century, and that is why it was honored with an entry in the Guinness Book of Records. Some of its modifications are still produced nowadays. At present the An-2 airplane is the largest biplane in the world.
UTair Aviation is among the three leading Russian air carriers. In 2011 the company’s aircraft have transported 6 750 425 passengers. From January to October 2012 UTair Group has serviced 31.4% more passengers than for the similar period in 2011. In 2012 UTair is planning to increase its passenger traffic to reach 10 million passengers. The company’s fleet includes more than 200 fixed-wing aircraft. UTair performs flights to 110 destinations. Its main hub is Vnukovo airport (Moscow), from which 100 flights are performed daily.
The Charity mission , which is going to involve the Russian “Annushka” after the flight, is called “Just Love”. It is based on the idea, that many people, including children, love aviation, but do not have the opportunity to fly to the sky. And, according to Mark Hill, one of the founders of the project, a flight on an airplane gives unforgettable sensations and vivid emotions, which sometimes change people’s lives and attitudes. The An-2 airplane is going to perform flight demonstrations and carry orphan children of Africa.