If you have ever come across the word Antonov, it means you have come across an aircraft which is one of the biggest, loudest and not a common sight in this part of the world. This blog is about my experience on getting to see the Antonov An-124-100.
It was a normal Tuesday late evening. Just when I thought the day was getting over, it was far from it. Upon looking at Flight Radar 24 at around 9pm, an app widely used to track aircraft, I noticed the usual suspects arriving and departing from Chennai. These include a variety of domestic carriers and International arrivals in Singapore Airlines B787-10, Malaysia Airlines A330 both operating cargo flights.
A while after that around 09:10pm out of nowhere Volga-Dnepr Airlines operating an Antonov An-124-100 appeared on the radar flying towards Chennai. A part of me definitely hoped it would end up in Chennai. I prepared all my gear with a sense of hurry and sat down with with the camera in my backpack, vehicle keys and shoes waiting of the first signs of its descend so that I can walk out of the door hoping to see the Antonov.
I was feeling a sense of excitement hoping to see the Antonov as well a lost feeling that it wouldn’t show up. With my eyes glued on the tracker, tracking every movement of it across the screen, at exactly 21:18 she started descending. There I went out of the door like a road runner runner with Antonov being the only focus.
When it rains, it pours
Just as i started my vehicle, the rain gods couldn’t make it worse. It started pouring and I had no rain coat with me. It was a point of no return, I didn’t have the liberty of time to go fetch one. With the weather being unhelpful, rain droplets hitting you on your face, bumpy and wet roads, time wasn’t in my side. Literally and metaphorically. There was definitely a challenge ahead of me. Thinking about it a day later, trying to reach as early as possible and of course as safe as possible couldn’t have been done without a dose of adrenaline pushing you.
Russian beast in the vicinity
It was exactly 09:36 when i reached where i had to. Looking at the phone i was delighted to see the Antonov lined up behind two aircraft, second one being AirAsia and first one being Singapore Airlines B787-10 which was just a few seconds away from me. The Singapore Airlines landed through some low lying clouds and a lot of condensation made much visible by the strobe lights on the B787.
As minutes passed by i couldn’t help but notice the rain gradually reduce step by step. I’m assuming it was the nature’s way of welcoming the Antonov. I treaded this evening very carefully to the extent that i didn’t want to get my camera out for both SQ as well as AirAsia for the fear of it getting wet.
The weather was definitely improving while the Antonov had aligned to runway 25 though it was still drizzling. It was for that moment I had done what i had done to get there. There it was, the Antonov An-124-100 registered as RA-82044 arriving from Singapore to Chennai asVI5316 with only the landing lights and Nav lights switched on. With the engine sound heard from quite a distance, you can be sure that there was something mighty in town. It was indeed a memorable evening to remember.
Effects of Antonov
The Antonov story just didn’t end there. As i was walking towards my vehicle with a feeling of accomplishment and a sense of content, there was an IndiGo arriving from Mumbai at some distance suddenly climb up through the low lying clouds over the airport and bank right before it disappeared into the rain clouds.
Upon tracking it down, it seemed like the Antonov hadn’t yet cleared the runway after landing which prompted the IndiGo to go around for a second attempt at landing. An event to end the much eventful evening.
“Its during nights and times like these that give you a meaning towards what you are passionate about. An Antonov night to remember. A story of mine that will live long in memory”