Russian airliners in Prague

In 1992, we were flying back home from Geneva. This was probably one of the first times I sat in an aircraft, and what an aircraft! Round windows, metal cutlery and a generous seat pitch!

My mother holding my little sister, picture from 1992
Tupolev Tu-134, OK-IFN, on 5 september 1992
Tupolev Tu-134, OK-IFN, on 5 september 1992

We usually flew on Czech airlines on our yearly summer holidays, so I would guess it was a mix of Tu-134 and maybe Tu-154 up until 1997, when the latter were retired. Maybe 737s as well, and probably some flights were on Swissair. These were the only pictures I found in the family archives.

Early spotting career

When I started hanging out around Prague airport in 2005, hearing and seeing those birds was already a special event.

2006, still in old AFL livery

Up until 2010, the russian flag carrier Aeroflot was still flying their high pitch noise record holding, built to last, smoking Tupolevs. They weren’t regulars, but appeared from time to time as type changes from the usual A320s.

I started shooting with a small Olympus mju camera and quickly  switched to an FZ7, which both my friend Keishi and my cousin Matus had. We used to joke that the camera “painted”. It had an insane zoom, but it was not very well suited for spotting, with a slow zoom and laggy response times. It got us started though…

Coming from the east, there were the occasional government, charter or cargo flights, presenting fine samples from the major soviet manufacturers.


Parked on the old runway along with Fisher air stored 737s
Croatian air force An-26 parked near T3



For the first year or so, I didn’t quite know the aircraft types very well, nor did I know what was coming in and when.  These were all lucky catches and who knows what could have crossed my viewfinder had I been more informed!


Apparently, “clutter” wasn’t a notion i was familiar with at the time


Imair accelerating down rwy 24 in 2006

The russian 4-holer

The big star was always the mighty 86. As with any aircraft with low bypass engines though, the picture isn’t complete without the sound!

One of my first visits to the airpot in 2005, armed with the Olympus point and shoot. The Il-86 dissapeared from PRG soon after
Ural airlines Il-86 in 2006 on final rwy 24

And here, enjoy this ISO ten bilion picture of president Putin’s Il-96 on final runway 24 in march 2006.



The slovak and czech government both had Tupolev 154s, but for some reason, I only managed to catch the czech one twice in 2005 and 2006.

Taxiing for takeoff rwy 24. Olympus mju 410


More recent catches

I was more lucky with the slovak one and was able to admire it in beautiful heavy fog in 2014.

2014. Waited in the biting cold for the Slovak gvt Tu-154 hoping the fog would go away.. it didn’t 😀
Tatarstan type change in 2014

The passenger Tupolevs and Ilyushins are gone today, but the traffic doesn’t stop!

An-148 taking off rwy 12 in 2015

In may of this year, I was finally lucky enough to see the rarest and most incredible aircraft there is…


That day, runway 12 was in use, but for some reason, the pilots chose to land on 24. Only a few fellow avgeeks were either informed or lucky enough to be on the right spot…

Until next time!

by Philippe Lachenal



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