I could spend all day just tracking planes and never get bored, even just monitoring regularly scheduled flights. But this must be one of the most bizarre flights to ever operate, as noted on airliners.net. As we see the continued path of this flight, we’re getting a clearer picture of what’s going on here.
Belarusian cargo airline flies from Libya to Venezuela and beyond
Rada Airlines is a Belarusian cargo airline that operates a fleet of Soviet-built Ilyushin Il-62 aircraft. The airline exclusively operates cargo flights, and I’d have to imagine that the carrier’s cargo services have only gotten even more unusual recent months, given the situation with Russia.
The Rada Il-62 with the registration code EW-505TR is operating quite the trip at the moment. The plane’s registration as such is blocked from most flight tracking sites (meaning you can’t track the plane’s movements over months), though the individual flights can still be tracked.
So, where has this particular plane flown in recent days?
- On Saturday, May 14, 2022, the plane flew from Tripoli, Libya (MJI) to Bridgetown, Barbados (BGI) in a flight time of 10hr41min
- On Monday, May 16, 2022, the plane flew from Bridgetown, Barbados (BGI) to Caracas, Venezuela (CCS) in a flight time of 1hr19min
- On Monday, May 16, 2022, the plane flew from Caracas, Venezuela (CCS) to Mazatlán, Mexico (MZT) in a flight time of 5hr34min
- On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, the plane flew from Mazatlán, Mexico (MZT) to Caracas, Venezuela (CCS) in a flight time of 5hr21min
- On Tuesday, May 17, 2022, the plane flew from Caracas, Venezuela (CCS) to Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) in a flight time of 7hr55min
- On Wednesday, May 18, 2022, the plane flew from Casablanca, Morocco (CMN) to Ahmedabad, India (AMD) in a flight time of 9hr27min
Can we go ahead and place our bets as to where this plane is headed next? My money is on Ahmedabad being a refueling stop, and this plane continues to Yangon, Myanmar (RGN), given the history of Belarusian cargo airlines shipping weapons to Myanmar.
By the way, while we’re talking about this plane, it has quite the history:
- The plane was delivered in 1992
- The plane first operated as a passenger jet for Orient Avia, a Russian airline that no longer exists
- The plane was then converted for cargo operations, and flew for Manas Airways as of 2016, which is a cargo airline based in Kyrgyzstan
- Then in 2020 the plane was taken over by Rada Airlines; there aren’t many airlines taking delivery of Il-62s in the 2020s 😉
Also, while it’s not the exact tail number, check out the below video of a Rada Airlines Il-62 operating an extremely risky takeoff.
What on earth is even going on with this flight?
I can’t even imagine what’s going on with this particular cargo flight, and what has been transported on various segments. A few thoughts:
- I’m sure we can all appreciate the ties between Libya and Venezuela, so that segment isn’t too surprising
- I would have assumed that the Bridgetown stop was just for refueling, but the plane stayed there for an extended period of time, so I’m curious about that
- How does the roundtrip from Caracas to Mazatlán fit into all of this? I mean, Sinaloa is the drug capital of Mexico, so is it really this obvious? And if so, was that shipment for Venezuela, or for whatever the final destination is?
- It seems to me like Casablanca and Ahmedabad are just refueling points enroute to the final destination, which I’m guessing is Myanmar (though only time will tell)
- How fascinating would it be to see the full list of what has been carried on each segment?
Collectively OMAAT readers know just about everything, so here’s a question I’m curious about, but don’t have an answer to. I don’t want to make too many assumptions here, but I just can’t help but wonder when cargo planes operate trips like these, and it’s at least on some level suspicious, are there checks constantly carried out, or do officials just turn a blind eye?
Like, we’ve seen nonstop flights between Iran and Venezuela, and I can appreciate how no one on either end there is probably ruffling any feathers. But do authorities in Barbados, Mexico, Morocco, and India inspect these planes because they’re a bit more suspicious than your typical FedEx plane, or do they just mind their own business? And if they mind their own business, is it because “snitches get stitches,” or because they’re minding their own bu$ine$$?
A Belarusian cargo Il-62 is currently operating what must be one of the most suspicious and intriguing cargo flights we’ve ever seen. The plane flew from Tripoli to Bridgetown to Caracas to Mazatlán to Caracas to Casablanca to Ahmedabad.
Assuming the plane flies to Myanmar next, there aren’t many questions about what’s being carried on these segments (though I’m sure those accusing me of creating a conspiracy theory will suggest that these are simply humanitarian flights for Myanmar, in the form of fresh avocados from Mexico).
What do we think is going on here? Am I the only one who finds this to be fascinating?