My Scariest Flight – Bomb Threat Onboard IL-86

After flying over 2,000 flights and 3 million miles, I am revealing my worst flight experience and scariest flight ever. It was onboard Siberia Airlines IL-86 from Novosibirsk to Beijing in 2004.

Ilyushin-86 is the first wide body airplane from Soviet Union and the 2nd four engine wide body airplane in the world after Boeing 747. The IL-86 is powered by 4 Kuznetsov NK-86 engines, these engine are underpowered and limit the range of IL-86 with full payload. The IL-86 has unique pull down stairs without the need of airport infrastructure for boarding the plane. There are two decks as passenger board and store their luggage on lower deck before proceed to their seats on upper deck. There are no overhead bins in the center which give a spacious feeling of the cabin.

There was a potential bomb threat on my IL-86 flight in September 2004 in Russia. During the boarding, 2 suspicious men went to the bathroom then request to leave the airplane after boarding. Russia was in a state of high alert during that period as the flight took place just after the Beslan School siege which cost over 300 lived and over 700 injured. Security forces came onboard with sniff dogs to search and passengers were sent back to terminal for additional security and interviews.

After 3 hours, we were cleared to takeoff on the same plane without the 2 suspicious person. The IL-86 flew below a low weather pressure system over Siberia and shook violently all the way during the 4 hours flight to Beijing. This was probably the only time I want to leave a plane early.