Video: Contaminated Runway Ops, Russian Style

YouTube clip shows dicey takeoff from mud-covered runway.

As a former FBO line boy whose job was to wash airplanes, this video makes me cringe. As a pilot, it also makes my palms sweat a little. The airplane is an Antonov An-24. The place is Bodaybo, a gold-mining town in the Russian Far East. The runway is a muddy mess, making the takeoff roll more of a mix of slip-sliding, hydroplaning pilot skill and probably a little bit of luck, too.

The An-24, operated by Russian airline UTair, appears to lurch sideways as a giant spray of mud coats its belly, fuselage and underwing. A crowd is gathered on the ramp to watch the takeoff, so you know that even the bystanders understand the risks. Still, this being the middle of nowhere, Russia, this is probably considered more or less a normal takeoff from a slightly contaminated runway.

We’d love to read what the An-24’s POH has to say about such operations — and see the same airplane attempt a landing.