© Valentin Kuzmin/TASS, archive

SAMARA, July 3. /TASS/. Arctic aviation expedition, the route which passes through nine countries, including Russia, kicked off on Tuesday morning from the Samara region, reports the correspondent of TASS.

Three amphibian one after another rose into the sky from the runway of a small airfield in the village of Krasny Yar went to the North-East.

On the eve of the start of the TASS correspondent met with the members of the expedition and asked them about the upcoming trip.

For the first time in the history of domestic aviation

Planes have to fly more than 20 thousand km over the polar areas. As reported in the organizing Committee of the expedition, a similar flight on a domestic aircraft-amphibians will be held for the first time in the history of Russian aviation.

“The route of the expedition is about 11 thousand nautical miles (20 sq km – approx. TASS) . In Russia we go directly through the towns of Urai, Surgut, Russia to Norilsk, Tiksi, go out into the Arctic ocean and then along the coast to Mys Shmidta and Provideniya Bay” – said the project coordinator and one of the participants, the Chairman of the Board of Directors NPO “aerovolga” Sergey Alafinov.

According to him, the route goes through Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, UK, Norway, Sweden, Finland, after which the expedition through the Great Novgorod, Yaroslavl and Cheboksary, will return to Samara oblast. On the way, scheduled for about 50 stops and landings. “We hope to complete the expedition for about 40 days,” he shared details Alafinov.

As told by another member of the expedition – cosmonaut-Explorer, hero of the Soviet Union, corresponding member of RAS Oleg Atkov, the idea of this trip was support in the administration of the President of Russia, the foreign Ministry and the Ministry of transport of the Russian Federation. “Everything within their capabilities provided assistance,” – said Atkov.


Arctic zone

Arctic — the North polar region of Earth, including the outskirts of the continents of Eurasia and North America, almost the entire Arctic ocean with the Islands, except for coastal Islands of Norway, and also adjacent parts of the Atlantic and Pacific oceans. With the “Arctic border” five countries: Russia, Canada, USA, Norway and Denmark.

Started Arctic expedition will be the first oceanic stage of the world flight “20 thousand leagues over the water.” In the framework of this global project, the route which will run along the coasts of four continents, three oceans and seven seas, scheduled air travel to Antarctica.

“If everything goes right with the Arctic stage, we will carry out next year, the second Antarctic phase. As you know, in the beginning of 2020 will be 200 years to the discovery of Antarctica by Russian navigators,” said Alafinov.

Six Russians and a Frenchman

In the current expedition of seven people – six Russians and one French. Expedition leader – the pilot-cosmonaut, Hero of Russia Valery Tokarev, supervisor – Oleg Atkov. The only foreign member of the flight – the pilot of seaplanes Loic Blaise.

The flights involved a unique amphibious aircraft of the Russian production two LA-8 (eight seats, the total weight of cargo up to 2.6 tons) and one “Borey” (two seats, total weight up to 700 kg). The aircraft will fly at an altitude of 3 thousand meters at a speed of 200 km/h AND LA-8, and “Zephyr” manufactured at NPO “aerovolga”.

“Flight to domestic rather than to foreign technology is very important. Our pilots fly a lot around the world – foreign “Robinsons”, “Cessna”, “Piper”, but in the domestic aircraft. And foreigners might be interested in our aircraft,” – said alafinov.

According to the organizers of the flights, the main goal of the expedition – carrying out various climatic and biomedical research, sensing of the Earth from low altitudes and the development of future routes aviation tourism on the Russian North.

Experiments on himself

As part of the expedition will be carried out and a variety of medical and biological research. Experiments travellers will be put on themselves.

“We take some scientific equipment developed in domestic research companies and focuses on health assessment of the person. In terms of expedition, we will fall into the artificial environment that is associated with the fact that there is polar day. The sun almost coming and will be one of the factors confounding circadian rhythms,” – said Atkov.

On the state of travelers will affect a wide range of ambient temperatures – from minus 20 to plus 20 degrees. Mobile equipment on the bodies of the members of the expedition will record an electrocardiogram and send the data when connected to the Moscow medical staff.

“MSU and a number of academic institutions participated in the preparation of another part of the scientific programme, which is aimed at the study of the human genome. Scientists have determined how circadian rhythms change those genes that are responsible for the regulation of most of these rhythms, we left before the departure of their original genetic data and then they will compare after our return,” – said Atkov.

Arctic tourism

Another goal of the expedition was to assess the potential for aviation tourism. “Our task is to see how to return the opportunity that was in the Soviet Union, when more than 800 EN-2 worked in the North and every more or less large settlement had a landing area for aircraft. Today, unfortunately, nothing,” said Alafinov.

The pilots believe that the Russian North will become with proper development of the route network popular with tourists. “I hope that we will be able to give very specific recommendations to the Russian Ministry of transport – how to create a road map to the North was attractive to tourists. Yes, of course, there are very severe climatic periods, but there is a wonderful period in April, when white snow, sun and temperatures around 10 degrees here now, or in July, when it flowered tundra,” said Alafinov.

The expedition will allow to identify problems of air tourism in Russia for foreign pilots, said the Director of the Russian public organisation of pilots and citizens – owners of the aircraft (AOPA Russia) Andrey Ivanov, is also involved in the expedition.

“In Russia we have a foreign pilot may fly only in the international airport. To arrive at the private airfield is the whole problem: we need to obtain personal permission of the Federal air transport Agency, and it is very difficult tourism”, – said Ivanov.