Russian Giant Delivers Saving Grace 20 Years Ago

This post is also available in: Russian

April 22, 2012

Twenty years ago, people of Shreveport, LA got serious jitters at the sight of a Russian military plane AN-124 coming in for a landing at the nearby Barksdale Airforce Base. Against the stereotypical assumptions, however, this flight did not have any militaristic intentions. Quite the opposite, the large transport plane was coming with the most noble of goals – to load 86 tons of humanitarian aid consisting of food and medical supplies and to deliver the valuable load to Ekaterinburg, Russia.

April of 1992 witnessed several historical moments. This very first memorable landing of the Russian military plan, AN-124 (Ruslan), on the American Airforce Base, Barskdale AFB, was completely unthinkable before that day. Such breakthrough event led to a series of reciprocal visits and exchanges between ex-enemy states in the months to come.

The gifts of humanitarian aid from the Unites States to Russia took place before, but this was the first of its kind from American Methodists to Russian Methodists, especially on that scale. Moreover, thanks to AN-124 and its 18-member crew, this valuable load bypassed the bureaucracy and corruption, arriving directly to Ekaterinburg and reaching the ones truly in need.

Capt. Yuriy Martinenko and his team flew 24 hours straight, in shifts. Arriving in the morning of April 22, 1992, the plane spent 32 hours on the base while being loaded up, setting off on its return journey on April 25.