Aviation News

October 12, 2009

Planespotting the 2009 United Nations General Assembly: A Primer, with Photos of Nearly Every VIP Visitor

Libya
Libya
Every year in late September, just as Autumn’s first chilly winds begin to sweep across the northeast in a battle to drive out Summer’s last throes of sunny warmth, planespotters gather along the breezy banks of New York’s Jamaica Bay to witness one of the hobby’s greatest spectacles.

The yearly session of the United Nations General Assembly is without a doubt the greatest congregation of the planet’s leaders. Practically all of these dignitaries arrive aboard VIP aircraft, many of which are rarely—if ever—seen in North America. Some of them probably have not left their home country since the previous year’s Assembly. And nearly all of these planes, arriving from every corner of the globe, descend into the modern gateway to America, John F. Kennedy International Airport.

If rarity is the planespotter’s ice cream, UN General Assembly week is like the greatest sundae ever made.

Aside from their generally nationalistic paint schemes, most of these planes are visually indistinguishable from an airliner that one might board to take a weekend jaunt to Las Vegas or to visit grandma in West Palm Beach. And herein lies the one of the essences of planespotting: Observing—actually cherishing—differences in objects that are for the most part identical. Take, as an example, the most prolific airliner in service today, the Boeing 737. A planespotter can see one of the thousands of 737s operating airline flights at any hour at practically any major airport on the planet. But of the 4,500 very similar 737s currently in service, there is only one that reads “Equatorial Guinea” on the fuselage, and the only place you’ll see it in the Western Hemisphere is at JFK during UN General Assembly week.

Furthermore, many of the types of aircraft flown by visiting dignitaries are unique to Americans, as well. Leaders from Russia and Ukraine were flown in on three different types of Soviet-era Ilyushin aircraft, IL-68, IL-72 and IL-96, none of which have been seen regularly in the U.S. since Aeroflot upgraded their transatlantic fleet to western aircraft.

Some leaders fly aboard American-built airliners considered relics in the modern age. The President of Gambia, for example, uses a Boeing 727—a type that was state of the art in the early-1970s, but most were retired by American carriers by the early 2000s. His particular plane, registration C5-GAF, was delivered to the long defunct Northeast Airlines 43 years ago, and subsequently flown across the US filled with paying passengers for decades.

About This List

Listed here are all of the 2009 United Nations General Assembly VIP aircraft arrivals that we are aware of. The list does not include dignitaries who arrived on regularly scheduled flights, and it is probably missing some who chartered planes that are regular visitors to New York.

“File Photo” indicates the photo was taken during a previous year’s UN Assembly or somewhere else completely. If you have one from this year that you’d let us use, please contact us at news@nycaviation.com.

Many thanks to Senga Butts for his assistance in compiling this list, and all of the photographers whose work we feature below.

This list is apolitical and offers no judgment or critique of any of the visitors. It is simply a log of aircraft that planespotters may find interesting.

No dignitaries were harmed during the compilation of this list, and no laws were broken while gathering this information.

Country Carrier Aircraft Type / Registration Photo / Credit
Algeria Algerian Government Gulfstream V
7T-VPG
Algeria02
Senga Butts
Algeria Air Algerie Airbus A330-200
7T-VGX
Algerian Government Gulfstream V
Eric Dunetz
Argentina Argentine Government Boeing 757-200
T-01
Argentina Government 757 Photo by Eric Dunetz
Eric Dunetz
Australia Royal Australian Air Force Boeing A36 (BBJ 737-700)
???
Royal Australian Air Force A36
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Brazil Brazilian Air Force Boeing 737-200
FAB2115
Brazilian Air Force Boeing 737-200
Senga Butts
Brazil Brazilian Air Force Airbus A319
FAB2101
Brazilian Air Force Airbus A319
Senga Butts
Bulgaria Bulgarian Government Tupolev Tu-154M
LZ-BTZ
Bulgarian Government Tupolev Tu-154M
Senga Butts
Burkina Faso Burkina Faso Government Boeing 727-200
XT-BFA
burkina-faso-727
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Chad Chad Government McDonnell-Douglas MD-87
TT-ABC
chad-md87
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Chile Chilean Air Force Boeing 767-300
FAC985
chile-767
Senga Butts[File Photo]
China Air China Boeing 747-400
???
Air China Boeing 747-400
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Congo GainJet McDonnell-Douglas MD-83
SX-IFA
GainJet McDonnell-Douglas MD-83
Senga Butts
Croatia Croatian Government Canadair CL-600 Challenger
9A-CRO
Croatian Government Canadair CL-600 Challenger
Senga Butts
Czech Republic Czech Air Force Airbus A319
2801
Czech Air Force Airbus A319
John Musolino
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea Government Boeing BBJ (737-700)
3C-EGE
guinea-bbj
Senga Butts
Equatorial Guinea Equatorial Guinea Government Dassault Falcon 900B
3C-ONM
Dassault Falcon 900B
Ethiopia Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300
ET-ALD
Ethiopian Airlines Boeing 767-300
Senga Butts
France French Government Airbus A310
F-RADA
French Government Airbus A310
Senga Butts
France French Government Airbus A319
F-RBFA
French Government Airbus A319
Senga Butts
France French Government Dassault Falcon 7X
F-RAFA
France01
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Gambia Gambian Government Boeing 727-100
C5-GAF
Gambian Government Boeing 727-100
Senga Butts
Iran IranAir Boeing 747SP
EP-IAD
IranAir Boeing 747SP
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Italy Italian Air Force Airbus A319
MM62209
Italian Air Force Airbus A319
Senga Butts
Ivory Coast GainJet Boeing 757-200
SX-RFA
ivory-coast
Senga Butts
Japan Japan Air Self-Defense Force Boeing 747-400
20-1101
Japan Air Self-Defense Force 747-400 (20-1101) (Photo by John Musolino)
John Musolino
Japan Japan Air Self-Defense Force Boeing 747-400
20-1102
Japan Air Self-Defense Force 747-400
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Jordan Comlux Airbus A318
VQ-BDD
jordan-a318
Senga Butts
Kuwait Kuwaiti Government Gulfstream V
9K-AJE
Kuwait02
Senga Butts
Kuwait Kuwaiti Government Airbus A310
9K-ALD
Kuwait01
Senga Butts
Lebanon Middle East Airlines Airbus A330-200
F-OMEB
lebanon-mea
Senga Butts
Libya Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A300
5A-IAY
Libya02
Senga Butts
Libya Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A340-200
5A-ONE
Afriqiyah Airways Airbus A340-200
Eric Dunetz
Mexico Mexican Air Force Boeing 757-200
TP-01
mexico-757
Senga Butts
Monaco Monaco Government Dassault Falcon 900EX
3A-MGA
monaco-3amga
Senga Butts
Oman HiFly Airbus A310
CS-TEX
HiFly Airbus A310
Senga Butts
Poland Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154
102
Polish Air Force Tupolev Tu-154
Gordon Gebert Jr.
Qatar Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A330-200
A7-HHM
Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A330
John Musolino [File Photo]
Qatar Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A310
A7-AFE
Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A310
Tom Turner
Qatar Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A340-500
A7-HHH
Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A340-500
Senga Butts
Qatar Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A330-200
A7-HJJ
Qatar Amiri Flight Airbus A330-200
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Russia Rossiya Ilyushin IL-62
RA-86540
Rossiya Ilyushin IL-62
Senga Butts
Russia Rossiya Ilyushin IL-76
RA-78818
Rossiya Ilyushin IL-76
Senga Butts
Russia Rossiya Ilyushin IL-96
RA-96018
Rossiya Ilyushin IL-96
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Russia Rossiya Ilyushin IL-96
RA-9601?
Rossiya Ilyushin IL-96
Eric Dunetz
Saudi Arabia Saudi Aramco Boeing 767-200
N767A
Saudi Aramco Boeing 767-200
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Saudi Arabia Mid East Jet Boeing 767-200
N767KS
Mid East Jet Boeing 767-200
Senga Butts
Senegal RoyalJet Boeing BBJ (737-700)
A6-AIN
Senegal
Senga Butts
South Africa South African Air Force Boeing BBJ (737-700)
ZS-RSA
South African Air Force Boeing BBJ
Eric Dunetz
South Korea Asiana Airlines Boeing 747-400
HL-7428
Asiana Airlines Boeing 747-400
Senga Butts
Spain Spanish Air Force Airbus A310
4550
Spanish Air Force Airbus A310
Spain Spanish Air Force Airbus A310
4551
Spanish Air Force Airbus A310
Sweden Swedish Air Force Gulfstream V
24
Swedish Air Force Gulfstream V
Senga Butts
Turkey Turkish Government Airbus A319
TC-ANA
Turkish Government Airbus A319
Senga Butts [File Photo]
Turkmenistan Turkmenistan Airlines Boeing 767-300
EZ-A700
Turkmenistan 767 EZ-A700
Senga Butts
Uganda Ugandan Government Gulfstream IV
5X-UGF
Ugandan Government Gulfstream IV
John Musolino
Ukraine Ukrainian Government Ilyushin IL-68
UR-86528
Ukrainian Government Ilyushin IL-68
Phil Derner Jr.
United Arab Emirates Abu Dhabi Amiri Flight Boeing BBJ (737-700)
A6-DFR
Abu Dhabi Amiri Flight Boeing BBJ
Matt Molnar
United Kingdom Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400
G-VFAB
Virgin Atlantic Boeing 747-400
Luke Wasiak [File Photo]
United States United States Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
33125
c17-3125
Matt Molnar
United States United States Air Force Boeing C-17 Globemaster III
33126
USAF C-17 Globemaster III
John Musolino
United States United States Air Force Boeing VC-25
29000
United States Air Force VC-25
Phil Derner Jr.
United States United States Air Force Lockheed C-5 Galaxy
70045
USAF C5
John Klos
Venezuela Venezuelan Government Dassault Falcon 50
YV1495
Venezuela02
Senga Butts
Venezuela Conviasa Bombardier CRJ-700
YV1111
Venezuela01
Senga Butts
Vietnam Vietnam Airlines Boeing 777-200
VN-A149
vietnam-777
Senga Butts
Zimbabwe Air Zimbabwe Boeing 767-200
Z-WPF
dunetz-zimbabwe-767-092509
Eric Dunetz

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