(Traveled on February 16, 2016)
While the previous days were a mix of aviation and sightseeing, day 4 was a day full of aviation. On this day, we chartered a Pouya Air Antonov An-74 for a one-hour joyride starting and ending at Tehran Mehrabad airport. There were also some surprises before and after the flight that led to an unforgettable day.
The Pre-Flight Party
Once again, we had a rather late start (meaning we do not have to wake up at 4:30AM in order not to miss our flight) as our charter flight is scheduled for a 10AM departure.
We were picked up at the hotel by our Iranian friend who helped us arrange this flight and headed to Terminal 4 with him. This time, rather than walking, our friend treated us to a taxi ride.
Our flight was showing up as Sari on the check-in board even though it was a THR to THR joyride.
While waiting to be checked-in, we somehow “run into” and struck a conversation with Vahid Shamsaei who seems to have been one of the top futsal players in the world.
With our very classic boarding passes in hand, we cleared the security and headed to gate 6 where our flight was boarding.
The bus dropped us off in front of our aircraft – EP-PUC. I was so excited – it was about to be my first An-74 flight!
…the flight was not ready to start yet. First, we had to eat the surprise cake that Pouya Air prepared for us!
While enjoying the cake, we also had a chance to roam around the aircraft and take pictures as we pleased.
Flying Around Damavand in an An-74
Shortly before ten, after (almost) finishing the cake, everyone boarded the plane and we were ready for the flight.
The door was closed exactly at 10:00AM, and five minutes later we taxied to runway 29L.
We took-off ten minutes later, and the second part of the party begun.
The flight was roughly one hour long, and throughout the flight we were enjoying taking photos of and with the crew, exploring the cabin, and so on.
Also, each of us got to visit the very “Soviet” looking green cockpit during the flight.
At some point, the flight even turned into a little modelling gig for the flight attendant.
There was even a meal service. Actually, its no wonder – in Iran you are never let off an aircraft without having a meal (kind of similar to leaving grandma’s house). A side note: on the 747SP joyride in 2014, the crew didn’t have time to serve the meal during flight as people were blocking the aisles, and so they served it on the ground after arrival.
Unfortunately, the flight was over way too soon, and so we returned to our seats.
Yukihiro got invited into the cockpit, and after asking if there were two jumpseats, I was invited as well.
To my surprise, there were no jumpseats, and so we were landing while standing. Leaning against the wall with two cameras in my hand – one taking video, the other one photos – definitely exciting!
We touched down on Mehrabad’s runway 29L at 11:18AM, and five minutes later we were back at the Pouya ramp.
The Pouya Party Continues
After getting off the aircraft, the Pouya party was not over yet.
We had a surprise waiting for us. Besides being able to take pictures of our aircraft on the ground, Pouya Air also pulled their Challenger out of the hangar so that we could photograph it.
So much fun on the Tehran ramp. It was unbelievable!
Another Aviation Highlight: FARSCO Hangar Visit
Once we were finished on the Pouya ramp and taken to the terminal, we headed to Iran Air’s restaurant for lunch.
Our program after lunch was exciting again. We had the chance to visit facilities of FARSCO Aviation MRO Center – one of the main maintenance companies in Iran.
While we were, unfortunately, not allowed to photograph some aircraft including the Mahan Air 747-300 that had its engine damaged not long ago and a couple of Iran Air Force 747-100s, it was still amazing to be visiting the hangars.
Still, we were able to photograph some interesting aircraft including a Qeshm Air A300 and a Kish Air MD-82. The latter one, we were even able to enter and take a look at the cabin and cockpit.
We finished the tour in the late afternoon, and afterwards headed back to hotel. While some people decided to explore Tehran afterwards, most of us just relaxed as at this point the trip was getting very tiring, and we still had half of it ahead of us.
…at least some of us. For four people of the group, this day was the last day of the tour, and so after getting to the hotel, they headed to Imam Khomeini airport to catch their flight back to Kuala Lumpur.