This chapter starts out at Pulkovo Airport in Saint Petersburg where we had to make super tight turn around to get back on the Belavia Tupolev Tu-154 that had brought us into Russia the same morning. We cleared customs and got right back on the apron bus, which took our group back out to the waiting aircraft.
This was by prior arrangements put in place by Merlkin Tours and it worked like clockwork. When the bus dropped us at the aircraft, all the Saint Petersburg originating passengers were pre-boarded, which was an excellent idea as it made things go very smoothly. The Russian authorities kindly allowed us a few minutes to photograph the Tu-154 on the apron before boarding, and this made for a lot of happy aviation fans.
We then boarded the aircraft, took our seats, and in no time the Tupolev was starting engines. It was a fairly lengthy taxi to our departure runway, and unlike in Belarus earlier that morning where it was heavily raining, we departed Saint Petersburg under overcast but dry skies, all of which made for excellent filming.
With a fifteen minute climb to altitude we were allowed to unfasten our seat-belts and explore the cabin. So we soaked up the atmosphere of this vibrant Russian beauty, in all her splendour, from several vantage points in the cabin, while our kind flight attendants went about their business providing excellent cabin service to the passengers. All of the proceedings from the bus ride to the apron, engine start, taxi and take-off and climb to cruise are presented in this 25 minute video.
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