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A rusted Soviet aircraft is wedged between several trees in a small woodland. A Mil Mi-8, to be precise.

According to legends, Nikita Khrushchev was so impressed by a trip he had in the American Presidential helicopter (a Sikorsky S-58) in September 1959 that he pushed for the Mil Mi-8 project. By late 1965, the production of many variations of the Soviet helicopter Mi-8 had begun, but the Soviet military mostly neglected it until they learned how valuable the Bell UH-1 was to the US during the Vietnam War. The Mi-8 was and continues to be one of the most popular Soviet/Russian helicopter types (over 40 distinct variations), and manufacture is ongoing.

This abandoned Soviet chopper is not new. The fading DDR symbol may be seen on the rear portion, indicating that this was one of the 98 helicopters in the East German State’s airforce. Following German unification, the Luftwaffe took up a major portion of East German equipment and used it until it was phased out in 1997. Because this Mi-8 still bore the DDR emblem, it was most likely never put into service.

It was either utilized for (ground) demonstrations or was destroyed and dumped with the disintegration of the DDR. Most likely the latter. Nonetheless, there isn’t much of this beast remaining. Everything has been stripped down to the hull, with the exception of a few cables and some overhead switches. It's worth noting that, in addition to learning how to fly this Soviet helicopter, you evidently had to learn Russian because all of the writing on the control panels were in Cyrillic.

A lovely little find in an idyllic setting (soviet military equipment does wind up in weird locations), perhaps this abandoned helicopter will remain undisturbed in the forest for a little while longer.

Image by digitalcosmonaut.com





























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