Stalkers should love this object. Since the 90ies Lutsk airport is dead. Recently, a mystical building near Lutsk has been gaining popularity as a place for colorful photo sessions, location for an interview or creative commercial. From time to time you can see creative selfies from a dead airport on social media profiles of Lutsk hipsters.
From the inside, “Lutsk” airport terminal would be perfect scenery for films about… war. Empty premises. On the facade, there is an image of a biplane that is ironically-symbolically frozen. Eloquent windows with holes. “The timetable of airplanes’ arrival” which no one will fly. Under your feet, there’s only water and concrete. Above the head, there are wires and rusty pipes.
Grey routine of long-ago dead terminal-ruins and the administrative premises of the former Soviet airport are diversified by the inscriptions like “Perverts were here”, “Vika. Olia. Sania. Denia…”
Sometimes you can stumble here across not only someone’s dirty work gloves but… forgotten coffee cup from a fancy Lutsk restaurant.
Some kinds of “greetings” to the Soviet era from the post-Soviet generation. The generation that still can’t find the way how to use the heritage of hundreds of acres of the land, runway and several large buildings that are situated 15 kilometers from Lutsk.
The road to the former airport main entrance is blocked by logs. Nearby – briefly and clearly: “Private property”. Once a posh state-owned object has long been non-state owned. Owners are changing. Sometimes in Lutsk, in that or another office authorities recall the ruins of the airport and make ambitious plans. However, statements remain statements and nothing is done.
The decision to build a new civilian airport was taken at Lutsk in the late 70ies. Until then, the city had an airport for small civil aviation. However, Lutsk was building up; there was a need to place the object elsewhere. The “new air gates of Volyn” were opened on April 22, 1984. By the way, it was Lenin’s birthday.
They say that it was an object of honor for then-first secretary of the Volyn Regional Committee of the Communist Party of Ukraine Leonid Palazhenko. The “architect” himself wasn’t present at the opening ceremony: a few months before he was sent to run the regional committee in Chernihiv.
At one time, the deceased head of the Lutsk City Executive Committee, Konstiantyn Lytvynenko, recalled how long they tried to get permission from the General Staff of the USSR to build this facility precisely in this place. Due to the fact that there was an airport in Rivne, the land plot was not approved for a long time. For the airport was actually on the border with Rivne region. For its construction, it was necessary to take 4 hectares of Rivne land.
The former mayor recalled that Volynians “convinced” the General Staff after a visit with a good present for then Marshal of the USSR, Ivan Yakubovsky. They brought him an expensive engraved gun.
Two hundred workplaces. According to workers’ memories, it had probably the best airport lounges for passengers from all airports that were operating in the regional centers back then. 1650 meters-long runway served only for small aircraft. Biplanes were flying from here all over the Soviet Union. However, Boeings have never been here. They say that the runway was deliberately built 200 meters shorter, in order for this airport not to surpass the one in Rivne.
Obviously, to have a start on the birthday of Lenin was a bad sign: the airport was doomed to work for just a little bit more than 10 years. Since 1996 no aircraft has set off to the sky from this runway. After the Soviet Union collapse, the airport was in a difficult situation. Subsequently, there was an awful loan at one of the local banks. Then the bank itself went bankrupt. Everything that could be taken out of the airport was removed and taken out.
The devastated terminal, a few-story administrative building, former hangars and a pair of biplanes with holey wings and eloquent “USSR” behind them were left to support the sky above the airport “Lutsk”.
…Now there are two structures on the territory of the former airport: PJSC Lutsk Air Company and GreenPark LLC, which in 2015 bought out the property of the airport at auction. Although the buildings are still ruined, the energy supply has been restored here, in the nearest plans – the restoration of water supply and other communications. After dealing with utilities they plan to clarify the status of the land plot. And only then we can talk about attracting investment.
In the meantime, Lutsk air lovers launch gliders into the sky from this runway. Sometimes they film creative commercial or record interviews with interesting people against the background of the mystical terminal. For now, the spacious hall covered with wires and concrete with its “timetable” is similar to a time machine.
“I see an industrial park here. Some kind of high-tech, a place for the development of industrial projects. First of all – air technology or biotechnology. But for now, frankly speaking, the agenda is very primitive: to restore the functioning of this abandoned complex. To make it simple: we want to have a place where you can sit, drink coffee and… talk about all this,” says Vasyl Heryliv, chairman of PJSC Lutsk Air Company.
I ask him why he willingly lets on the God forgotten territory those who decided to make here an interesting interview or creative photo session in almost mystical terminal?
“Why to refuse? I am always for it. Let people see what inaction and indifference lead to. Let this object live at least that way. While it cannot live the other…”
So it lives.
By Olena Livitska
Photo by Iryna Kabanova