World Tour: Flying the “Table Saw” – Part 1 Page 3

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Part II: Back in the (Former) USSR

Route segments: GUCY-DGAA-FCBB-DAAG-UKDR

Accra, Brazzaville and Algiers were regular stops for the Tu-114 when it was in service. At Krivy Rig in Ukraine (there doesn’t seem to be a fixed translation from the Cyrillic, and that’s the one I like best) there’s an aviation academy with a very well-preserved example of the 114 they use for instruction — no, it doesn’t fly anymore.

The weather was severe clear in Accra and Brazzaville, with a full-scale tropical thunderstorm system in between. It was bumpy all the way up at 31,000. I even managed to pick up a little ice — quite a trick over the Equator!

Tropical thunderstorm

Tropical thunderstorm

Leg 2The very first Tu-114, Khruschev’s equivalent to Air Force One, was officially nicknamed “Rossia.” Gracious, but boring. The NATO reporting name for the 114 was “Cleat”. Not as demeaning as some of them, but not as satisfying as many. The men who fly airplanes always give them the most colorful nicknames and the 114 drivers were no different. The best of them refer to the intimidating, whirling, propeller blades. “The Devil’s Oxcart” is some pretty fair imagery. For those with a more purist bent, there’s “Zmei Gorynych”, a three-headed dragon from Russian fairytales. Then there’s my own favorite: “The Table Saw.” If the airplane had been built in the US, I guess we’d be calling it “The Mixmaster”, “The Blender” or “The Coffee Grinder”. The still pictures that accompany this journal don’t do justice to the spectacle of those enormous props in action. Download the airplane and check out the start up and shut down sequences. The animations do a much better job.

One thing MSFS is good for is teaching geography. I really had no idea there were mountains like this in Algeria.

Algiers

Algiers

When I was a kid, our neighbors had a DeSoto. Something about the Tu-114 front office reminds me of that car. I guess it has to do with cycles of contemporary design.

Note the metric panel, with all the numbers in place for cruise: 500 KPH (270 knots indicated, 420 knots TAS), 9500 meters (or FL310, just off the 114’s optimum FL320). That gauge in the lower left is the Machmeter. The upper red radial line is the MMO, .82 Mach. The lower one is the current speed, .72 Mach — that’s in a propeller-driven airplane, now. Pretty good. I saw groundspeeds over 500 knots on the way across the Atlantic.

Panel

Nothing happens fast in a 114. Everything is slow, sedate, measured. Granted, flying IFR is supposed to be that way anyway, but compared to a big Boeing, say, the 114 seems downright languid. I shot a low approach into Krivy Rig where I didn’t break out until just under 500 feet AGL. Nothing to it in this airplane — but I’m glad I didn’t have to go missed. I bet getting all the knobs and switches cranked around from “down and slow” to “up and fast” can be a challenge in this thing.

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