UAQ’s mystery plane to be dismantled

It’s time to say goodbye to a piece of aviation history!

The Ilyushin Il-76 that has sat for decades under the sun in Umm Al-Quwain (UAQ) is in the process of being dismantled. Designed for landing in harsh conditions, the cargo jet has been linked to airlines that have flown between Africa, Europe, and the Middle East. 

Though its story is still somewhat shrouded in mystery, the most accurate version of events has been detailed by Douglas Farah and Stephen Braun in their book Merchant of Death. According to the authors, the aircraft was allegedly sold by the Russians to Air Cess (an airline that operated in Sharjah). It was last registered to Centrafrican Airlines. Both Air Cess and Centralafrican were connected to Viktor Bout, a notorious international arms dealer who supposedly used his airline companies to smuggle weapons.

Farah & Braun claim that Bout sold the aircraft to an advertising firm in the UAE with the promise of turning it into a roadside billboard. Instead, it turned into a landmark- a renowned destination for #avgeeks and adventure seekers alike. 

The abandoned IL-76 was once part of the Soviet Union’s large fleet of Ilyushins. These massive cargo aircraft were originally built for the USSR military in 1971, replacing the Antonov 12 which was being used by the Soviet armed forces since 1959.

The removal is said to take weeks due to the intense process of breaking down the aircraft. Its sudden demise is rumored to be due to luxury real estate development beginning in the area.

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