EAST TO WEST, LAST AND FIRST
published in Air NORTH Vol.51 No.12 December 2011

Twenty years ago Germany was finding its way as a newly re-unified country, following the fall of the Berlin Wall in late 1989. The air force of the German Democratic Republic, the Luftstreitkrafte der NVA, had been supplied exclusively with Eastern Bloc-produced aircraft, and after re-unification these were taken over by the Federal Republic of Germany, the first time Soviet-built aircraft had served in a NATO air force. Most of these were taken out of service shortly after, the exception being the Mig-29 fleet which continued to be declared to NATO until their disposal in 2004 following the introduction of the Eurofighter Typhoon, however 1991 co-incidentally produced four extremely rare appearances at Newcastle Airport of previous 'East German' airframes operated by the Luftwaffe.

ex-Interflug Tupolev Tu-134A 11+10 taxying out from what was the first major extension to Newcastle Airport's main terminal apron, after a brief visit on Wednesday 23rd January 1991, on the last ever visit of the '134' to Newcastle. The aircraft operated by the previously highly secretive NVA transport squadron TG-44 had arrived from Cologne (arr1317) with spare parts and engineers for what had been the first Luftwaffe Challenger to visit Newcastle Airport, 12+01 having diverted in on one engine en-route from Gander to Cologne in the early hours of the 23rd, the '134' returning to its 'eastern' home of Marxwalde (dep1357). The VIP-configured Tu-134AK had served since 1982 exclusively with the NVA even though it wore a basic Interflug colour-scheme and the registration DD-SDR, becoming 11+10 after re-unification in October 1990. The machine was then briefly registered 9A-ADP with RPL Airports Rijeka before becoming RA-65567 with Aeroflot and designated a Tu-134A3 in August 1993. It was wfu at Moscow-Sheremetyevo and last noted there in a derelict state in January 2009.

At the end of 1991 two more Soviet-built aircraft visited Newcastle Airport in Luftwaffe service, Antonov An-26s 52+12 which night-stopped on Tuesday 8th October (1048-1425 Teesside-Chievres), and 52+03 which followed for a shorter stay on Monday 25th November (1452-1536 Shawbury-Cottesmore) - 52+12 returned for its second visit a few days later on Friday 29th November (1210-1309 Dresden-Scampton). Both operated by NVA transport squadron TS-24 based at Dresden-Klotzsche, the visits were thought to have been in connection with the upcoming giant Allied Land Forces Exercise of May/June 1992 at Otterburn, which subsequently saw so many airlift aircraft visit Teesside Airport. 52+12 is seen here on 8th October 1991 in an all-grey colour-scheme - 52+03 wore a green livery on its visit during November 1991 - this photograph is even more significant as it shows the first Antonov-built aircraft to visit Newcastle Airport!

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