The Spirit of Udmurtia. Photo: Bernie Leighton
This is one of Izhavia’s Yak-42D as seen on the ramp in Izhevsk. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Oh lord, Bernie – where are you going now?

Izhevsk takes its name from the river Izh to which it is near. I am sure you were dying to know that.

Izhevsk has long been known as a city of arms. For a while, Izhevsk also made motorcyles. It’s just back to arms now.

Specifically, the Kalashnikov concern.

I’ve always wanted to go see the Kalashnikov museum as you could say I am a fan of his work.

What better way to get there than a Yak-42D?

Note, this is not the only way to get to Izhevsk, if you are a masochist and desire to fly on a CRJ-200 instead: Rusline can help you out.

Despite the Izhavia folders that proclaim 70 years of service, such is not entirely true. Prior to being Izhavia, it was the Izhevsk Air Company, and before that it was the Udmurt Republic’s division of Aeroflot.


I can’t help but think of the late Zhanna Friske whenever I go to Domodedovo. GBM is evil.

Who was Zhanna Friske? She was one of the original members of the Russian band The Shining Ones.

One of the last songs she did with them was, “And I flew” or if you want to Google it (which you probably will because the video is quite something) “А я все летала.” has the video set in Domodedovo. Even better, Domodedovo before it was all Airbus and Boeings! Annoyingly so, because if we’re really talking about that band, the Anna Semënovich era is by far their best.

That’s about all the pleasant things I can say about Domodedovo. Oh! One more! It’s better than Amsterdam Schipol could ever dream of being. Whilst Domodedovo is a bit of a mess because the arrivals and departures are on the same level (until you go up the escalators to security) it at least feels classy.

We made our way through the extremely practical security screening.

Then to the gate.

Wait? What? A jetbridge for a Yak? Photo: Bernie Leighton

The majority of the time when I am flying on Yak-42Ds, one boards via the rear staircase. The L1 door is not very large. Here at DME, though, Izhavia pays for a jetbridge. Watch your head! Had this been my first time on a Yak-42, I do feel I may have lost a minor amount of skin or pride, or both. The S-300 I fly has larger doors!

This is not the Yak’s fault. It has a wonderful staircase. We’ll get to that.

On board.

Every other time I have flown a Yak-42D, I have been in business class. It rather destroys the purpose of the Trijet experience but is still incredibly fun. This time, however, I went as far down the back as I could. 18F.

It’s certainly one of my favorite views. Photo: Bernie Leighton

18F, it turns out, is a seat on Izhavia’s two-class Yaks that provides one with the most optimal view of the engine and wing in the same camera frame. I did not know this prior to boarding but must say I was pleased.

Seat pitch, by today’s standards, is quite generous. I’d say 32 inches. Even far, far, far back where I was.

I always find that Russian-built airliners have a nautical vibe to their cabins. Photo: Bernie Leighton

The seats were padded! Actually padded! What is this sorcery?

Even weirder, with 120 seats worth of passengers (and a seat factor close to 96%) there were four flight attendants! They even proactively served!

Considering I had just flown European Business Class on Europe’s only one-star airline – I was in awe!

Sure, the pre-departure service in economy was not much – but it was something. A tasty cherry candy.

I will maintain my opinion that the Yak-42D is the quietest of the Soviet-Era airliners. Having sat as far back as I have now – I will go further. It’s quieter than an MD-80 down the back. It’s freaky.

Yes, there is the traditional telephone ringer style high notes in the background – but it’s really manageable and a little confusing.

Yes, I am aware the D-36 is a high-bypass engine (with no thrust reverse). Fun fact, the D-36 can be given a gearbox.

In as such it becomes a D-136. Interestingly, when attached to a transmission – the D-136 becomes louder than most solar explosions. Cool, right?

We began to taxi for takeoff on Domodedovo’s runway 14L. It was extremely grey and in a situation of poor visibility.

Not at a minimum for the Yak-42D, but close. Clearly, tower and departures were also working to synchronize traffic for a near-minimums SID as every aircraft leaving ahead of us had to sit on the runway for longer than one usually does whilst awaiting takeoff clearance.

This is where I also discovered the Yak-42D has a nearly perverse amount of flap to play with. I swear the pilot flying put it to at least flaps 40.

Then, unlike my last trip on a Yak-42 – the pilot flying floored it.

Three high-bypass engines can give you a significantly large rate of acceleration. We were in the air within 25 seconds.

The Yak-42D is an exceedingly comfortable aircraft. Our specimen was assembled for China General Aviation in 1994. A “new-old” plane.

We made our way to cruising altitude at a leisurely pace.

Once there, service began.

As you can see, even in Economy, Izhavia gives you quite a spread for no extra charge. It’s also quite good, if you like kasha and chicken. Apparently, baggage is also included – but I didn’t check any.

Roughly 45 minutes before landing, the crew came around for a final service. I got some more tea.

Landing was another leisurely affair. I believe that it must be Izhavia’s SOP to be very gradual in ascent and descent.

After what felt like more than half an hour on approach into Izhevsk, we touched down.

It had been a wonderful flight, but it was not over.

My friend Anton had arranged for all of us on the plane to meet with Izhavia’s Chief Pilot Nikolai Chichilanov.

The Spirit of Udmurtia. Photo: Bernie Leighton

Through him, I learned how to program the Yak-42D Flight Management System.


Izhavia is great. Unlike most airlines just a few hours West of them – they treat you as if you are human. Admittedly their route network is a little small,  but should you need to visit Izhevsk – they are your best choice.