35 years in flight! The pilot’s path from fighting for Artsakh liberation to Afghanistan and Iraq. Armenian pilot dedicated his life to aviation.

35 years in flight! The pilot’s path from fighting for Artsakh liberation to Afghanistan and Iraq. Armenian pilot dedicated his life to aviation.

Laconic and kind, trustworthy pilot Eduard Karapetyan has been “in-flight” for 35 years and is going to serve the Armenian aviation for another 10 years. Eduard Karapetyan admits that he does not like to give interviews, and in general he is laconic, but he made an exception for “Armenpress” and agreed to talk about his life path and his family. He landed half an hour before the interview, successfully delivering passengers from Voronezh to Yerevan. We hurried to the plane and even managed to visit the cockpit. “I spent almost 23 thousand hours in flight, but to this day I feel very excited before the flight,” Eduard Karapetyan described the exciting and unknown part of his work.

Born in the family of a pilot.

“I was born in a pilot’s family. My father was a pilot-on-board engineer and my mother was a dispatcher. My father had worked in this sphere for 30 years. My elder brother is also a pilot who began to work three years earlier than me. I studied at the helicopter college in Kremenchuk city in Ukraine from 1983. After graduating in 1986, I began to work in Armenian aviation as a helicopter pilot,” said Karapetyan.

My brother was my teacher

Eduard Karapetyan speaks of his brother with an excellent pride: his brother was also his teacher. “My brother Albert was my teacher of aviation. Together we worked in the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan, Iraq, Kazakhstan and currently in Armenia. Abo (diminutive of Albert) has been my teacher until now,” said the pilot and added that he has only learned to drive a helicopter without his brother’s help.

Helicopter flying has its difficulties

Two years after he became a pilot, the devastating Spitak earthquake occurred on December 7, 1988. “At that time, we drove help to Lori and Shirak regions. They didn’t have time to recover from the Spitak earthquake when the struggle for the liberation of Artsakh began in the 1990s. We kept in touch with all the cities of Armenia and Artsakh. We participated in the hostilities and transported the wounded to hospitals, as well as engaged in the delivery of weapons and ammunition. There were difficult days, but I had no fear. I was almost 20 years old and most of all I felt a sense of patriotism. Today I’m trying not to think about those years because I had lost my friends and faced much hardship,” said Edward.

The transition from helicopter to airplane was easy for me

At the end of the war, Eduard Karapetyan decided to become an airplane pilot. “The transition was easy for me because flying a helicopter is more difficult. He worked at the Erebuni airport in Yerevan and my first flight was on a Yak-40 airplane. Two years later he began to fly An-24. At the time he already worked in Africa, where he transported passengers from one city to another since there were mostly jungles with no ground roads. I lived in Africa for 4 years. In 1996 I transferred to a cargo plane An-12, which flew to the United Arab Emirates, Afghanistan and Iraq,” the pilot told us and added that they used to help the local population there, transported military clothing, weapons and ammunition. He happened to visit almost all the cities of Afghanistan and Iraq. After the war ended, he returned to Armenia.

Roads led me to Kazakhstan

“Upon returning from the UAE to Armenia, I worked at “Armavia”, which, after a few months, went bankrupt and I was left without work. During 6-7 months of working with this airline, I retrained as a ship commander on a Canadian CRJ-200 aircraft. In 2011 I moved to live in Kazakhstan, where I worked for almost 7 years. There I flew a CRJ-200 aircraft. In February 2018 I returned to Armenia. I am currently working in air-company “Armenia”, where I had a retraining on a Boeing 737 aircraft. I returned home after 20 years of wandering in a foreign land,” Edward said.

I was not in Armenia neither at the birth of my son, nor my daughter.

Eduard Karapetyan talks about his children with special warmth, especially about his daughter Shushanik. “We married in 1994, and a year later we had a son —Ruben, whom I named after my father. And in 1998 our daughter Shushanik was born, she is the meaning of my life, ”says Eduard and admits that he was not in Armenia neither at the birth of his son nor his daughter.

His children also work in aviation, his son Ruben became an air traffic controller. Ruben studied for two years at the Ulyanovsk Aviation School in the Russian Federation then returned to his homeland and served in the army. After the army to this day, his son dreams of becoming a pilot. He learned air traffic controller’s skills in the educational institution in Armenia, and now works at the “Zvartnots” international airport. Shushanik works as a specialist in the DCS department (Departure control system) in the air-company “Armenia”. Both work in aviation and continue family traditions.

 Daughter Shushanik, was sitting next to her father during the interview. She said that until she was two years old, she did not understand who was the man that visited them from time to time. “When I was little and dad came home, I did not understand who he was and why “ this man” should stay at our place. It took a long time until I got used to him and realized that he was our father. And there was also a tradition that he brought us sweets from every trip, ”recalls Shushanik.

I'm not superstitious

“I’m not superstitious, and I don’t think that a pilot should be one. Before each flight, starting the engine of the plane, we say "God bless us!" We are close to heaven in flight and our prayers reach the Lord faster, ”Edward jokes.

There were difficult flights, as the airplane engine went bad…

He said that he had had very difficult flights during his career when the engine of the plane  went bad, but fortunately, everything ended well. “Of course, there have been difficult cases, it’s inevitable to work as a pilot for over 30 years and have no problems,” says laconically Edward. He didn't want to tell much, he just wished that all the pilots always landed safely. Edward is sure that he is lucky because there hasn’t been a single tragic incident.

I can fly until I am 63 years old…

«Until I have good health, I will have flights.  I have ten more years before retiring, till then I’m going to fly. My family doesn’t let me retire too…,” Edward admits.

Interviewer Lilit Demuryan

Photos by Hayk Manukyan

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