2013: A Year of Extraordinary Planespotting in Cebu

Antonov An-225 lands in Mactan-Cebu International Airport

Planespotting is a hobby shared by most aviation enthusiasts and professionals alike, that includes me of course. For us, these flying birds of steel are majestic proof of human being's achievement in reaching the skies. The noise, the colour, the models, the majesty. Taking photos and/or videos, or even just watching it would suffice.



Airbus A320, the Philippines' "Ibong Maya" for Filipino planespotters. We see this a lot. They dominate the Philippine skies.


Philippines isn't an international hub (nowadays). We don't get much variety of aircraft or airlines. The skies here are pretty much ruled by Airbus A320s, to the point that whenever we see one, we just watch it fly by. Ibon maya kasi ang peg ng Airbus A320 at Lawin naman ang Airbus A330. 

The Airbus A330. The most common Philippine "big bird." (Photo was shot in Manila Airport)

However in 2013, Philippine airports, particularly in Mactan-Cebu International Airport, suddenly had a surge of foreign and different aircraft from around the world, landing and taking off. They're rare birds for most Filipino planespotters.

United Colours of Aviation. The Boeing 747-8F (G-GSSE) aircraft of the British Airways Cargo in Mactan Airport.
It was on that year that Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda) struck the country, and the international community came in to assist and give aid to affected areas. Cebu is the closest international airport that can accommodate large aircraft and has ample parking spaces in the tarmac, from the areas that had been devastated.

You don't see them that often at one place at a time here in the Philippines. 2013 was an extraordinary year for planespotters and outpouring humanity.

For weeks, it has been like "United Colors of International Aircraft" as a peg in CEB. Cargo aircraft, military aircraft, and smaller ones were busy loading and unloading aid. It was a sight to behold, and also touching.

A Boeing 747 Singapore Airlines Cargo sits in the tarmac of Mactan Airport.
Aside from the humanitarian aid, on that rainy November day, the largest aircraft (and the only one flying) in the world, Antonov AN-225 "Mriya" landed in Cebu to deliver a component for a power plant in Batangas. It was a ginormous feast for senses, seeing it landing at Cebu's runway -- first time it has landed in Philippine soil!

Kirov reporting!
Gobbling the Airport. Antonov An-225 in Cebu, Philippines

Europeans. The Ukranian (Soviet era) Mriya passes by the (Western) European Airbus A330 of the Belgian Air Force

Hongloki nya! Bigger than the Boeing's 747 jumbo jet

Inside the belly of the beast

The resting area

Yes. This isn't your fly-by-wire aircraft. The console you see there is a legacy of the Soviet era.

This is how they unload the cargo from its belly


That year was really a landmark year for plane spotters in Mactan and in the Philippines. Though we would like to see more variety of aircraft landing on Philippine airports, we do hope we can solve the air traffic congestion that has been bugging Manila International Airport for years now.

Beechcraft King Air 350 (ZS-ZAZ) face to face with the Boeing 747 of National Airlines

For now, throwback photos from the year that was.

A Bombardier Q400 of PAL Express flies above the Antonov An-225 Mriya.
Antonov An-128 of Shovkoviy Shlyah Airlines. 2013 was a good year seeing these Soviet aircraft.

A Kalita Air Boeing 747-200 landing with precious cargo

Silk Air from Singapore and Davao on its routine flight. National Air and other aircraft at the background on special flight for humanitarian aid.

Parking at the tarmac. The Boeing C-17 Globemaster of the British Royal Air Force

McDonnell Douglas MD-80 of the Spaniards

What a way to land. The British's Boeing C-17 landing at sunset time in the airport.


McDonnell Douglas MD-11F of Nordic Global Airlines


That C130 and some Ospreys from afar

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