Is This The Shadiest Cargo Flight Ever? From Libya To Venezuela And Beyond…

Is This The Shadiest Cargo Flight Ever? From Libya To Venezuela And Beyond…

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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.

Rada Airlines Il-62

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.

Ahmedabad seems like a logical refueling point

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$$?

Rada Airlines Il-62

Bottom line

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?

Conversations (45)
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  1. Mark Rye Guest

    No follow up on this cargo flight?

  2. Scanditino Guest

    Please track flights from Chimore, Bolivia, I guarantee you those are even shadier!!!

  3. Sir Digby Chicken Caesar Guest

    Apparently due to a “fat finger error”, staff at the new Hyatt Ziva in Barbados accidentally ordered millions of moustache curlers for the hotel salon. The only places they could resell such a huge number of products designed to create the perfect “gangsta tash” at short notice were Caracas, Sinaloa, Yangon, and Minsk. Nothing dodgy going on at all.

  4. Daniel Guest

    Reminds of the triangle route Iran Air operated with a 747SP between Caracas - Damascus - Tehran, guess the revenue was in the cargo section...

    1. jorgje Member

      Can't be anything else. I tried to book that flight, but it's not possible :(

  5. iamhere Guest

    Interesting but it does not affect my points and travel strategy though.

  6. James S Guest

    The stop in Bridgetown was probably for crew rest to avoid the crew having the leave the airport in caracas. You've reported in the past about AA service to caracas doing something similar.

  7. Sam Guest

    Ben just wants to know HOW nuts the comments get. Social experiment. Sinaloa = food. Go read some labels in your local produce dept.

  8. arthur Guest

    All that way for some Tequila ? No wonder that plane took off so low !!!
    Or maybe the pilots were drinking the cargo ?
    Hmm

  9. upstater Guest

    Wow Lucky! SHOCKED, SHOCKED!

    Now get on the flight tracking history and dig out the "rat line" reported by Seymour Hersh about the weapons transfers from Libya after Gaddafi was killed into Syria to facilitate more regime change. They supplied Al Nursra.

    Or hundreds of Gulfsteam flights delivering human cargo to black sites for "enhanced interrogation".

    Or back in history, the triangle from the US to Iran to Nicaragua to supply the Contras. Before you...

    Wow Lucky! SHOCKED, SHOCKED!

    Now get on the flight tracking history and dig out the "rat line" reported by Seymour Hersh about the weapons transfers from Libya after Gaddafi was killed into Syria to facilitate more regime change. They supplied Al Nursra.

    Or hundreds of Gulfsteam flights delivering human cargo to black sites for "enhanced interrogation".

    Or back in history, the triangle from the US to Iran to Nicaragua to supply the Contras. Before you were born...

    Or CIA's Air America in Laos, Burma and Vietnam doing drugs and weapons.

    Pot calling the kettle black, no?

  10. DaninMCI Guest

    Hard to say of course but I'm going to assume hard Dollars or maybe Euros are being transported in trade for drugs and smuggled parts that are hard to get in Russia. Russia doesn't likely need drugs or guns but it might need parts or currency. Kind of reminds me of the movie The Peacemaker where George Clooney is telling congressional members that he bought a Russian contacts daughter a Ford Explorer. Say you need...

    Hard to say of course but I'm going to assume hard Dollars or maybe Euros are being transported in trade for drugs and smuggled parts that are hard to get in Russia. Russia doesn't likely need drugs or guns but it might need parts or currency. Kind of reminds me of the movie The Peacemaker where George Clooney is telling congressional members that he bought a Russian contacts daughter a Ford Explorer. Say you need some hard-to-get machine parts, computers, or whatever. The seller isn't going to take Rubles at this moment in time. They likely want US dollars or will barter for something they need like drugs or guns. So you go to seller A to get drugs to give to seller B and so forth. The other odd stops are for fuel. Cash makes the ground ops much easier. It doesn't explain what they used to buy the drugs to give to the seller of what they really wanted. They could trade gold but why the middle man unless it's terrorism. Could be transporting bad actors into Mexico to walk across our unguarded border in our proxy war with Russia.

  11. Eskimo Guest

    So we're playing conspiracy theories here huh?

    Maybe another state sponsored proxy civil war in Myanmar happening soon?
    Some invisible hand seems the be actively staging a 'regime' or 'coup'.

    Or just some Covid-19 vaccines and PPE.

    1. Nickel Guest

      None of these countries make vaccines and very few make PPE at scale, though,

  12. GamblingIsATaxOnTheStupid Guest

    Sinaloa needs drugs, not weapons. Myanmar needs weapons, not drugs. Caracas needs money. Rada says we'll do the transport, to which CCS says, done, but only if you do this little side gig to Sinaloa for us. The stop in BGI was to pick up hard cash in those fancy armored cases from an account held by the Junta in one of the off-shore accounts that the island hosts. That purchases the weapons, which will...

    Sinaloa needs drugs, not weapons. Myanmar needs weapons, not drugs. Caracas needs money. Rada says we'll do the transport, to which CCS says, done, but only if you do this little side gig to Sinaloa for us. The stop in BGI was to pick up hard cash in those fancy armored cases from an account held by the Junta in one of the off-shore accounts that the island hosts. That purchases the weapons, which will be delivered after Rada takes the drugs to Sinaloa and ferries that hard cash back to CCS. Once all that is done, off they go. The MJI isn't part of this particular transaction other than the plane is probably somewhat based there to avoid European sanctions? Just a haphazard guess of course - it may very well just be oranges and spices

  13. Will Guest

    Gun running, with a touch of Mexico's finest nose candy to keep the comrades awake

  14. MoJoe Diamond

    Wonder if George Lucas got any of his ideas for Chewbacca, Han Solo, the Millenium Falcon and Mos Eisley ("hive of scum and villainy") from cargo flights like this.

  15. JB Guest

    The plane has landed in Ahmedabad, India (according to the flightaware link in the post).

  16. steve64 Guest

    Question to ponder ....
    I'd be willing to bet that USA/NATO has increased cargo flights to Poland.
    I'd also bet that if such flights make a refueling stop, it will be in USA/NATO friendly countries.
    So I wonder if there's a Russian Travel Blogger somewhere calling these flights "shady" ??

    My guess is that the long Barbados layover was for crew rest and/or maint.

  17. nub2ski Guest

    Shadiest cargo flight ever was from Japan to Lebanon carrying musical equipment.

    1. Arie Guest

      LOL so true! Or was it the greatest escape ever?

      Another candidate for shadiest flight is when a plane was filled with 600 million dollars in cash was flown from the US to Iran, payback from years of sanctions.

  18. JamesP Guest

    The aircraft is now in India, so its destination is not Iran. My guess is Myanmar

  19. Murray Guest

    Passed Iran now, my guess would now be Myanmar, it'd certainly be an interesting turn if the regime there was getting weapons from Venezuela...

  20. Justin Guest

    The plane went out of its way to avoid Israeli airspace - which AFAIK there would be no need to do as a Belarusian flagged plane - so I assume it’s flying somewhere with hostile relations with Israel. Iran is the obvious one, but it’s pretty far south to still be landing somewhere in Iran. Karachi maybe? We’ll see soon enough…

    1. Uri Guest

      Nothing unusual.
      Israeli airspace is only used for traffic to/from Israel and Jordan.
      One night think that gulf carriers, which now floor to Israel, would overfly it to save time, but in fact they never do.

  21. Never In Doubt Guest

    Not surprising, but boy has this post brought the crazy out for commenting.

    1. Khatl Gold

      You're not kidding! Started reading... and wow! Everything from discussing ferries, soccer, oranges and avocados to PETA, elections and baby formula! Even Ben couldn't have predicted that!

  22. Michael M Guest

    You answered your own question, 'they just mind their own bu$ine$$'

  23. C. Weston Guest

    These are the shadiest cargo flights

    Thanks to the efforts of animal protection organizations, and caring people around the globe, nearly every major airline in the world has stopped transporting monkeys to laboratories. Now, it’s time for us to use our collective voices again to let EGYPTAIR know that it has made a very bad business decision by getting involved in the cruel trade in primates for experimentation. We recently received information that 720 long-tailed...

    These are the shadiest cargo flights

    Thanks to the efforts of animal protection organizations, and caring people around the globe, nearly every major airline in the world has stopped transporting monkeys to laboratories. Now, it’s time for us to use our collective voices again to let EGYPTAIR know that it has made a very bad business decision by getting involved in the cruel trade in primates for experimentation. We recently received information that 720 long-tailed macaques who’d been torn away from their families in Cambodia were transported to John F. Kennedy International Airport (JFK) in New York on April 30, 2022.

    https://support.peta.org/page/40940/action/1

    1. Mr. Obvious Guest

      Thanks to the efforts of peta - We recently received information that 3 macaques transported 120 humans torn away from their families in Venezuela to Cambodia on May 17, 2022. *Cue X-files music*

  24. Adil Guest

    That takeoff! My, my! Emirates tried to imitate this, didn't they!

  25. Klaus Guest

    Hey Ben,

    If you like tracking flights look at FRA-SVQ.
    Background: Last week Frankfurt Soccer Team qualified for the UEFA Euroleague final (which is in Seville). Today there are 35 additional flights between Frankfurt and Seville - and it’s fun/interesting to analyze the ferry flights.
    In addition to 50.000 supporters from Frankfurt, authorities expect 100.000 supporters from Glasgow…

    1. Steve Diamond

      Very interesting indeed, probably two of the most hardcore group of supporters playing in a huge game. Interested in the operations that go into these ferry flights, reminds me of when i had a scheduled flight from LHR to Nice on an a319 and got plane swapped to a 777 when england advanced to play a euro game in nice. Talk about a nice upgrade in J!

  26. Sean M. Guest

    If you think Rada is shady, you are barely scratching the surface of the cargo world!

  27. Arie Guest

    Lucky, that's some fox news conspiracy level. Sad.

    1. Arie Guest

      I havent got enough info for a theory, neither do you. It's fun to speculate but this speculation uses every negative stereotype of every country. It highlights how poorly you view some countries.

    2. stogieguy7 Diamond

      Yet, Ben is probably on to something here. Don't be naive, Arie.

  28. Bruce Guest

    A plane operating between multiple second or third world countries is obviously shady because ... because ... because anything that doesn't involve the West must be shady because the West is the best don't question it just accept it.

    1. VitaliU Member

      right.. the poor misunderstood Belarusians are transporting Lybian oranges to Venezuela using this fuel efficient plane :)

    2. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Bruce -- Oh c'mon. There are thousands of cargo flights in the developing world daily, and I don't write about those. Like VitaliU hinted at, do you really think the airline is transporting avocados between Mexico and Venezuela, or...?

    3. Arie Guest

      I know it's not oranges, it's obviously the missing ballots from the 2020 us elections along with a few kilos of cocaine from mexico, sand from lybia, and pistachios from Iran.
      The stoping barbados was for loading up hoards of cash to pay for said items, taken from the personal account of Putin.

      There you go, easy peasy

    4. Ray Guest

      Don’t be silly. If we all found a Boeing 757 or even a prop plane with ex-U.S. registry flying between Florida and unusual spots in Latin America and the Caribbean, we would also be $u$piciou$

  29. VitaliU Member

    This airline is infamous for delivering weapons to countries like Myanmar, Iran, etc. Here is an article that provides a lot of background information, lists owners, explains how they are linked to Transaviaexport, another shady Belarusian airline (now they call themselves TAE Avia) that was sanctioned by the US government
    https://euroradio.fm/en/why-belarus-opposes-ban-arms-sales-myanmar

  30. Bob Guest

    Stefania, stefania!!!!!!!

    What are you waiting to make a post about it?

    Also check the song and video done by the Opera of Vilnius!

    :-)))))))))))

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

nub2ski Guest

Shadiest cargo flight ever was from Japan to Lebanon carrying musical equipment.

4
Chas Guest

Baby formula?

3
Never In Doubt Guest

Not surprising, but boy has this post brought the crazy out for commenting.

3
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