The biennial MAKS air show takes place this week in the town of Zhukovsky, about 40 kilometres south east of Moscow. Zhukovsky is home to the Gromov Flight Research Institute (LII for short) and the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute (TsAGI), two giants in the world of aircraft testing and design. The five-kilometre LII runway is one of the longest in Europe. TsAGI has been involved in testing the Buran Space shuttle and Energia Rockets. For more information on the Air Show, check out www.aviasalon.com/en/ While the air show is taking place it is not a good time to be travelling by car. Previous visitors have reported traffic jams that reach back as far as the Moscow Ring Road; there were 650,000 visitors and 600 exhibitors in 2007. Far better to go by train from Kazansky Station to Otdykh ("Relaxation"); there is a shuttle bus from the station to the airfield. Whether or not you make it this week, here is a walk to help you explore the area: museums, parks, ponds, a railway run by children and a neighbouring town full of rainbow-coloured tower blocks.
The terminal of the Children's Railway, with a white statue of Lenin outside it, is almost directly opposite the main railway station. This route heads in the other direction, to explore the town of Zhukovsky. Walk away from the railway, past the kiosks and then immediately right along a path until you come to a circular aeroplane monument, the first of many landmarks related to Zhukovsky's most famous enterprise.
Turn left just before the monument and pick up the little path through the woods, running along the backs of the apartments and garages. Follow this path until it skirts right around a wall and comes out on the corner of Ulitsa Frunze, which runs straight ahead. The Museum of the History of the Conquest of the Skies is on the left, just past the next crossroads, upstairs in building No. 41. There are only two small rooms in the museum and it is often full of visiting children in yellow neckerchiefs. One room displays artefacts dating from Zhukovsky's prehistory as a dacha village and an settlement called Sakhanovo. The other room is full of the paraphernalia of early flight: suits, ejector seats and simulators. It is open Tuesday to Sunday, 10 am-4 pm and costs 40 roubles.
boulevard of Ulitsa Mayakovskogo behind the statue of Zhukovsky. At the end of the road, skirt round the derelict entertainment centre and enter the local "Park of Culture and Rest", passing a war memorial with an eternal flame.
Bar "Yolochka", just inside the park with umbrellas and wooden tables outside, is a good place for a break. Follow the main tarmac track through the park. At a crossroads, close to the playground, turn left along a smaller tarmac path, leading to Ulitsa Garnayeva (named after a Soviet test pilot whose parachute can be seen in the museum). To the left, at the end of the road, is a statue of another test pilot, Valery Chkalov, who flew non-stop from Moscow to Washington via the North Pole in 1937.
Cross over Ulitsa Garnayeva and continue straight through the woods to Ulitsa Tupoleva. The Zhukovsky Café, down a path to the right towards the end, is another nice option for a cup of coffee or a pancake. It has a pleasant terrace on the edge of the woods. Go across the busy junction at Ploshchad Gromova and on as far as the next major intersection. It is best to cross the road to the left and walk along the left hand pavement. Cross over again and follow the sandy path roughly straight on beside the Children's Railway, as far as the beautiful Kratovsky Pond. Here you can swim and relax by the water before going around the pond to the station, about 200 metres along Ulitsa Tsentralnaya which runs along the left of the lake.
From the station, you can either go straight back to Moscow, or you could go on three stops on the train out of town (just 14 roubles) to visit the neighbouring town of Ramenskoye. Ulitsa Sovetskaya, running left from Ramenskoye Station will bring you to the Borisoglebskoye Lake and the Holy Trinity cathedral, built in 1852. The town was a great centre for the 19th century textile industry and you can see some interesting factory buildings across the water.
The older Church of Saint Boris and Saint Gleb is in the woods beyond the cathedral, close to a collection of tanks which local children like to use as a playground. You can't get in to the church, but it's pleasant enough wandering along the lake or back past the wooden cottages on the far side of the church. The Borisoglebsky Coffee Shop on the second floor of the building opposite the cathedral provides another welcome break. Heading back towards the station and left along Ulitsa Mikhalevicha to Ulitsa Guryeva, you encounter some beautifully contrasting city landmarks.
The apartment blocks along this road have been painted with giant murals of rainbows, trees and butterflies. When combined with the floral animal sculptures and fountains, which Ulitsa Guryeva, the whole scene has a distinctly drug-induced aspect. The "Sputnik" express train (120 roubles) takes only 45 minutes to whisk you back to Kazansky Station.
You might want to try the Children's Railway which operates Thu.-Sun. 10 am-2 pm between June and August every year. There is a playground near Kratovsky Pond.
Landmark of the week
MiG-21 monument, Ulitsa Gagarina, Zhukovsky
This former Soviet Air Force plane has become the unofficial symbol of the town, appearing frequently on shop and café logos. The Mikoyan-I-Gurevich was a Soviet design bureau for military aircraft. The MiG-21 is a supersonic jet fighter with the longest production run of any combat aircraft.