Anyone who has visited Umm Al Quwain will be familiar with the abandoned plane found at the old airfield, but what's it's story?
9 April 2017| Last updated on 14 January 2020
Anyone new to or living in the UAE is understandably keen to get out and explore their neighbouring Emirates, which includes Umm Al Quwain (UAQ).
UAQ is situated in the north, beyond Ajman, and is home to two popular family destinations that are great to visit; Dreamland Aquapark and the Barracuda Beach Resort.
Of course, anyone who has headed this way will no doubt spot the large, abandoned and very old aircraft that now lies in the grounds of the old airport.
What may appear to be simply an abandoned plane, this UAQ landmark has a fascinating story behind how it ended up here.
Located just off the E11 before you reach the Emirate's waterpark, the plane and the UAE Aerodrome lie opposite the Umm Al Quwain Shooting Club.
What now serves as an advertising platform for the nearby Palma Beach Hotel, the plane is an Ilyushin IL 76. The Soviet era aircraft was designed as a strategic airlifter, and was useful in remote areas as it operated well on unpaved runways.
With a fixed wing and four engine turbofan, the plane's serial number is 03403072, and was built for the Soviet air force in 1975. It is believed that it entered service at some point in the late 70s, early 80s under the registration CCCP-86715.
There is still confusion that surrounds the plane's final journey and ultimate resting place in Umm Al Quwain in 1999, but the stories prior to it arriving are very intriguing.
After the collapse of the Soviet Union, the plane was then operated by the Russian air force until the mid-1990s, under the registration RA-86715.
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Then, the plan was re-registered as EL-RDT to Air Cess in 1997, then as 3D-RTT to AirPass in 1998, and then was last registered to Centrafrican Airlines from 1998 to 2000.
And this is where it gets interesting... Two of the above airlines, Air Cess and Centrafrican, were also connected to Viktor Bout, a notorious Tajik arms dealer who for a time in the 1990s, is believed to have operated from Sharjah to Ras Al Khaimah.
His planes carried cargo and arms from Eastern Europe via the Middle East, to Africa. Which no doubt subsequently led to him being banned from entering the UAE in the early 2000s, and his arrest in Thailand in 2008. He is now currently serving a 25 year sentence in a US jail.
As mentioned, there's still confusion surrounding why the plane was finally landed in UAQ, with several theories existing; it was landed by accident, it was purchased with the plan to convert it into a restaurant, for scrap metal and the possibility that it had to make an emergency landing due to low fuel levels.
Whatever the reason, there's no denying that anyone driving by is always in awe at its size, and serves as a gentle reminder of days gone by for the old, unofficial UAQ Aerodrome and airfield.