Link to the detailed GPS track: [url]http://de.wikiloc.com/wikiloc/view.do?id=1574460[/url]

In this dark and window-less hall, the passengers of the only two 7AM flights (my Yak-42 and a An-24) await their boarding calls

Afterwards, a short bus transfer takes me to this beauty: CU-T1708 was built in 1986 for Aeroflot. After five years it was bought by Lithuanian Airlines, and thereafter spent quite some time on misterious paths through the Russian and Ukrainian provine, before ending up with Cubana in the beginning of 2010.

Unfortunately, I wasn't lucky enough to enter through the backdoor - up the front wasn't too bad either!

Despite still wearing basic Lithuanian colours, at least a Cubana title has been applied. Thanks!

The cabin felt very, very cramped. The 3-3 seating would be fine...

...but the seat pitch was a real bummer, even for a relatively short guy like me. Also featured on this pic: The overwhelming inflight menu, and the hour-long try of an attractively dressed young Cuban lady trying to get acquainted with that fair-headed foreign guy wearing an expensive-looking camera around his neck (without success, of course)

The extremely dirty window wasn't lifting my spirits either - at least, there was plenty of interesting stuff to take pictures of inside the cabin, too. Looks like in its 25 year career, the cabin has accumulated signs in four different languages - not bad!

Safety Card, if anyone's interested

 

After a little more than an hour, we're already approaching the airport of Santiago de Cuba, passing some hills...

 

...and the picturesque Bahia de Santiago de Cuba

Welcome - the terminal looks really modern, wow!

Plenty of flowers to celebrate surviving my Yak ride, yay!

There was no time to admire the flora though. In only 50 minutes my return flight was leaving, and I had yet to check in and get my ticket! The check-in agents weren't that pleased to see me and were about to start shouting why I was so late - imagine their surprise when I told them that I'd only just arrived!

Finally, I even had time for a brief visit of this beauty, stored right next to the terminal: An Il-14, joining Cubana in 1962, and later serving as a night club.

Everything's ready for the return flight!

All aboard - and finally I get the chance to climb up its a...hm, back!

This time I was seated in the rear of the cabin, meaning much closer to the three Lotarev engines. Already the start-up sounded like a true symphony, and the take-off noise was almost a piece of art! Here's a vid:

Start-up:

 

 

Take-off:

 

 

We slowly climbed about the surrounding hills...

 

...and finally reached our cruising altitude. Nice!

Finally I had some time for a little look around. Little surprise I found signs in a fifth language - Arabic this time! No idea how that had found its way on board!

Strangely, this part of the cabin had a much more agreeable seat pitch, and so I really enjoyed every minute of it

Way too soon we turned on the final approach for Havana

Cabin view of the rear part upon exiting...

...I had also asked for a short visit to the cockpit, but was told that the cockpit had already been closed and locked. Yeah, sure, two minutes after arrival, haha!

 

Still, that couldn't bother me too much. I was happy to have experienced (and survived) my first ride on a Russian jet aircraft - and I'll never forget that great sound!

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