The small town of Chechersk is isolated on all sides because it sits within the area contaminated by fallout from the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. Nevertheless, right in the middle of town there is one peculiar attraction: a midcentury Soviet airplane. Permanently parked just off the main road down the street from the town hall, even some locals ask themselves how the aircraft ʻʻlanded” here.
During Belarus’ Soviet days it was common to put large machinery on literal pedestals after they were retired, as a testament to Communist industry. You can find trucks, cars, tanks, concrete mixers and littered across Belarusian cities, but few are as striking as the Chechersk airplane.
It is a Soviet Tupolev Tu-124, a sibling of the Tu-104, the world’s first successful jet airliner. These planes flew the skies between 1962 and 1980. They seated 56 passengers and were equipped with parachutes to be used in an emergency landing. Before it was decommissioned the the plane was used by the Soviet Union Ministry of Defence. Afterward, it mysteriously ended up as a ʻʻmonument” in Chachersk. The nearest airport is about 100 kilometers away.
When it first arrived the airplane was used as a movie theater. Nowadays it is used as a local culture centre for exhibitions and education of handicrafts, for instance, knitting.