Arthur Bondar


Where My Childhood Died

I was born on July 3, 1983 in the big metallurgical city of Krivoy Rog (Ukraine), in a small Military Aviation town. My mother first worked as a nurse in a kindergarten, then as a nurse in a military hospital. My father was a mechanic of IL-76 military transport airplanes. Our aviation regiment was one of the best regiments of military transport aircraft in the-then USSR. The crew with my father operated some flights during the war in Afghanistan. After Afghanistan there was Ethiopia, after Ethiopia - Sierra Leone, after Sierra Leone  - Angola, after Angola - Yugoslavia. He said that they went through everything; they landed on 3 engines instead of 4, they were fired at during take-off, and all sorts of other nasty stuff. He hides his medals, "pieces of metal" as he calls them, in a small duralumin box in the closet. He never wears these medals  or opens the box, because for him it is much more than just "pieces of metal." 

I remember my first and last flight on board IL-76, which took off from this airfield. We made a circle around our dying military units and went to the last landing. When the engines stopped it was absolute silence, only dozens of pairs of eyes, filled with tears. The last turn and roar of the engines sounded like the last cry of the soul of an iron bird, that was born and killed by man. 

In 2000, the regiment was disbanded, and in 2004 it was relocated. The airfield and military town are now abandoned. Part of the buildings have turned to ruins. Two IL-76 military airplanes are parked and waiting their turn to be cut into metal.