The stamp celebrates the 40th anniversary of aviation in 1984, except that the Afghan Air Force came in 1924 and the first airline came in 1955. Oh and the catalog list the airplane on the stamp as a Tupelov Tu-134 when it is a Yakrovlev Yak 42. I usually specialize in making errors but today I catch a few. So slip on your smoking jacket, fill your pipe, take your first sip of your adult beverage the stewardess just brought and slip your seat back as we delve into Afghan aviation. Welcome to todays offering from The Philatelist.
The stamp is quite nice. An airplane is always good fodder for a stamp. An airplane in flight always expresses freedom and the small Yak 42 airliner/corporate jet remove any modern sense of congestion in modern travel. Being from a time when Afghanistan was under actual Soviet military occupation. This may also be the peak of mid east socialism on a stamp. Every stamp in the issue features a Soviet made plane.
The stamp today is issue A441, a 13 Afghan rupee stamp issued on June 29th, 1984. The stamp shows a Yak 42 airliner. It was part of a seven stamp issue in various denominations celebrating what the stamp feels was the fortieth anniversary of aviation in Afghanistan. According to the Scott catalog, the stamp is worth 25 cents with its non postal cancellation.
The Afghan air force was formed in 1924 with aircraft given to the King by the British and the Soviets. Even in the early days, most of the flying was done by Soviet pilots. This continued through the Soviet occupation though 1990 with many Cuban and Czech pilots. The air force broke apart at the end of the Soviet backed government and putting it back together is still an ongoing process today. The air force had jet fighters and bombers in 1960 and today as resorted to dual use turboprop Brazilian trainers.
The first airline, Ariana was founded in 1955 with Douglas DC-3s. For a while Pan Am was a minority shareholder and the fleet was a single long haul DC 10 and a few 727s. This was the fleet in 1984, but was not reflected at all on the stamp issue. This was because the Soviets were getting ready to supply mainly second hand examples of the aircraft types on the stamps. I am sure the Soviets were picking up the bill for this so it is understandable that is what they wanted to see on the stamps. The Soviet airliners did not last long in Afghan service, by the Taliban era the airline was back to just the now aging 727s on their mid east routes. One of these 727s still serves as the Afghan governmental VIP aircraft. Ariana was one of the third world airlines banned from European airports by the EU in 2006 on safety grounds. 727s would also run afoul modern Euro noise measures.
The catalog does have this aircraft mislabeled as a Tu 134. The Tu 134 is a twin jet and the aircraft on the stamp is a trijet. This model must be the also Soviet Yak 42. It was the only plane in the small size to have three engines. The Tu134 is also a bigger airplane. Both models were in use in Afghanistan for a short period in the late eighties.
Well my drink is empty so while I ring for the stewardess I will open up the discussion in the below comment section. Come again tomorrow for another story that can be learned from stamp collecting.