It is a really rare of its kind: The Pouya Air Antonov AN74. A very unique plane made for polar flights and landing on unpaved landing strips. Therefore the engines were even moved to the top of the wing. This gave her the name Cheburashka, named after a character in Russian children’s literature with big ears like Mickey Mouse.
Where to find this rare plane
The main use of this plane was to transport cargo. Today there are still some found in eastern Europe and Russia. Motor Sich from Ukraine is using it for passenger service within the Ukraine and there is a number of planes operated by Pouya Air in Iran, the airline of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. I had the opportunity to fly the Antonov AN74 two times within Iran. Both were absolutely fantastic memorable flights with fantastic crews. We were allowed to move around the plane on the apron and take as many pictures as we like before we went back to Tehran.
Our flight on the Antonov AN74
Although it was in the early morning, everyone was excited to fly the Antonov AN74. For me it was now the second time and I was still as excited as everyone else. As our plane was parked in front of the Pouya Air hangar, we were taken there by bus and this gave us another chance to take a glimpse at the ancient government Boeing 707 and at the other Antonovs and Ilyushins in front of the hangar. Unfortunately the Revolutionary Guard Corps is very strict on taking photos there.
Our flight took us to Kalaleh in the northeastern part of the country. It is only a small airfield with no regular passenger service. And after an hour of taking pictures of the magnificent Antonov AN74 we went back to Tehran.
The flights were really fun. You can feel the STOL capability of the plane with an incredibly short take off. And it is an absolutely unique experience flying in this very old fashioned Russian ambiance.