Helicopters are cool, and Soviet military aircraft are cool, and sky cranes are cool, so a Mil Mi-10 Soviet military sky crane is by definition very cool indeed. Plus, I like buses and this Mi-10 is getting ready to carry a great looking bus.So yeah, I was going to post this picture of the sky crane and the bus way back in the mid 60s, and you were going to think it was awesome, or at least moderately entertaining, and that was going to be it for the day.
But then I started doing a bit of research and things got really fun. Because the Mi-10 and Bus combo is iconic. The Mi-10 and the Bus are a thing. They go together like peanut butter and jelly. You very seldom see an image of the Mi-10 flying without a load (apparently it was an ill handling beast without one) and while it can carry tanks and prefab houses and large pieces of unidentifiable but vaguely menacing Soviet equipment, it was usually paired with a bus when posing for pictures. The bus is even in its standard painting profile, which depicts the scene above from the 1965 Paris Air Show.
The Mi-10 (NATO reporting name “Harke”) was a variant of the classic Mi-6 “Hook”, the standard Soviet heavy lift helicopter for both military and civilian purposes. These were the largest helicopters in the world in their day, and were made in great numbers. (They were real workhorses and many Hooks are still in service today.) Here’s the same Mi-10 flying in the other direction with a different bus.The Mi-10 and the Bus were even immortalized on a stamp.
To fully immerse yourself in the whole Mi-10 and Bus experience, watch this video clip from a British newsreel showing an actual M1-10 and Bus takeoff! Plus there are stupid puns! This will be the best 32 seconds you’ve spent watching YouTube videos of buses flying on giant Soviet helicopters in the 1960s.
The bus in the video appears to be a British volunteer bus, but the Soviet bus in all the classic Mi-10 and Bus images is the LAZ 697 “Turist”, the panoramic window touring variation of the classic LAZ model 695 city bus, which was the ubiquitous everyday street bus of the Soviet Union. This bus was produced in the Lviv Bus Plant LAZ from 1956 to 2006, the longest production run of any single vehicle ever. There were a number of variations, of which the Turist was the top of the line. This is a true classic bus.
So thank you, sky crane and bus, for leading us to the story of an obscure but magnificent teamup in the shared history of air and ground transportation. What a great reason to spend a rainy Sunday afternoon doing internet research.