Sunday, September 11, 2011

The Air Up There

Not long after the red-star-clad military secrecy and iron-tight Soviet security melted away with the fall of the U.S.S.R. in 1991, the former military flight training school known as the Lugansk Aviation School of Navigators stopped training comrades for good. A few years later, the site was turned into the much more tourist-friendly Lugansk Museum of Aviation Technology.

We visited this site last week as a part of an afternoon excursion around the city, and I got the chance to show what a kick-ass Soviet I would have been:

It was also a good chance to absorb in a little Ukrainian tribute to their Communist-fighting and aircraft past:

Come's a museum! There has to be at least one slide on the grounds somewhere!

But, seriously, the place was stoic graveyard of Soviet and Cold War era killing--er--flying machines with some pretty interesting histories and stats according to our guide. Some of these bad boys were the first ever produced in the world. Some of them set off international conflicts and thievery. Some had repeated rip-off attempts by the United States. All of them were pretty impressive machinery mammoths:

This pilot-less guy is designed to swoop down as close as 7 feet to take photos and video in both black & white and infrared! I would love to add this to my camera collection:

Suspicious guide from all of my photo-taking, or friendly beckoner into a piece of his country's history? You be the judge:

Definitely one of the more unusual museums that I've ever been to, and truly one of Lugansk's hidden gems (of which I have a feeling there are more of in this city than meets the eye or bad guidebook write-up)!

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