It was fantastic to see 2 operational passenger IL-18’s at the same time in 2006. Both in active service.

Both of these 2 IL-18’s are operated by the same airline. Mainly used for flights from Djibouti to various destinations inside Somalia.

2 x IL-18

After a refreshing stopover at Hargeisa we were now almost ready for take off again. All passengers were on board and the last crew member climbed on board and closed the big giant sliding door in front of the engines.

IL-18 Cabin

Engines were started using the same procedure as last time, no check lists just old routine. I squeezed my way into the cockpit again and stood just behind the Flight Engineer as we taxied to the runway for our take off roll.

Just as we aligned with the runway, I was again offered the seat and I took it. Sat down quickly and had approximately 10-12 seconds to get all cameras adjusted and in place for the takeoff. No seatbelt to fiddle with, it was simply gone.

Again the turbines started to scream and we began our departure to Mogadishu.

Full takeoff thrust and we were picking up speed. Once again were we fully loded with passengers and their luggage. It felt like these people never heard the words “excess luggage” or “overweight” as they all seemed to bring all of their belonging onto the flight.
Having a great view over the copilots shoulder, I was watching the runway passing outside in an increasing speed. The cockpit noise made it impossible for me to hear the v1 and rotate callouts, but I noticed we used a lot of runway already and we were still firmly on the ground screaming down the runway.

At last I saw the copilot slowly pull the yoke to initiate the rotation. But I never felt the main gears leave the ground.

We were still screaming down the runway, now with our nose gear lifted a bit and I saw the end of the runway just ahead of us.

It was quickly closing in and I waited for the feeling of being airborne, but I still felt the rugged surface of the runway shaking our IL-18.

We passed the pianokeys and then finally lifted off the ground. Thank God it was a highly eleveted airport with no obstacles ahead. We continued to fly and slooowly climbing in the runway heading for a while.
I have never in my life used as much runway as we just did. NEVER.
And honestly, I hope I never will. It wouldn’t take much of an obstacle to strike the main gears as we roared over the edge of the runway. Absolutely incredible….

When my heart resumed normal operations we cruised in a south westerly direction, heading for MGQ. We had an 1.5 hour flight ahead of us, and the copilot was still in command. No autopilot, just manual flying all the way.

View

Somalia isn’t the safest place in the world right now, and before I left I checked www.lonelyplanet.com, as I always do before a trip. Just go get some tips, advice and info on the country itself. The first thing they show when you select Somalia is this:

Dangerous Destination

Somalia remains one of the world’s most dangerous destinations.

Uhm, ok. Luckily I stay around the aircraft and my arrivals are usually expected. But still it made me think once and twice before accepting this assignment.

As we approached Mogadishu I understood from the crew that the runway had been repaired enough to operate into again. It had been ruined by the strong waves from the ocean, hitting the side, making the runway cave in. But now it was wide enough for us to land on.

MGQ Approach

We landed safely and backtracked to the apron. The terminal didn’t look like much, it had all been ruined in the fighting , along with all other buildings in sight.

We parked and opened up all doors to let some wind inside the hot and steaming aircraft. Parked next to us was this IL-18, doing cargo flights into MGQ.

IL-18 Cargo

Captain enjoyed the wind as he looked out from the sliding door.

IL-18 Captain

We were all waiting for our passengers so we could get airborne again and start our way home again…