On Aug. 2, four Russian pilots departed Moscow in a pair of turbine Robinson R66 helicopters on a once-in-a-lifetime, 45-day, 40,000 kilometer aerial adventure across Europe, the North Atlantic, Greenland, Canada, Alaska and Siberia. All told, the planned round the world trip required about 160 landings.
The new Robinson R66s are owned and flown by members of the Aviamarket aeroclub, whose membership flies more than 100 private helicopters, many of which are based at Bunkovo Heliport, 40 miles northwest of Moscow.
After meandering through northern, central and southern Europe, the R66 pilots crossed the North Atlantic via Scotland, the Faroe Islands, Iceland, and Greenland, to make landfall in Canada at Iqaluit on Aug. 20.
From Nunavut, the R66s flew across the Hudson Strait to Kugguak, Que., south through Labrador to Goose Bay, and west across Quebec to reach Gatineau Airport on the 21st, and Toronto’s Buttonville Airport on Aug. 22 (where the crews took a side trip to visit Niagara Falls by road).
The pilots departed Buttonville on Aug. 23, with the goal of reaching the West Coast in about 20 flight hours. Chinook Helicopters in Abbotsford were their hosts in the Vancouver area.
The R66s can be configured to carry 7.5 hours of fuel for the overwater journey and 5.5 hours of fuel for long distance flights over land.
The blue Robinson R66 was flown by Alexander Kurylev and Michael Farikh. Kurylev is a businessman and world champion aerobatic pilot, and Farikh is the leader of the expedition, and a veteran of many long distance helicopter flights.
The burgundy R66 was flown by Dmitriy Rakitskiy and Vadim Melnikov. Rakitskiy is chief pilot at Aviamarket, a Russian Robinson dealer, and Melnikov is a businessman and the highest time R66 pilot on the team.
Last March, Rakitskiy and Farikh flew another R66 to the North Pole.
Vertical Magazine (verticalmag.com) 2013-08-28 12:55:40 by Kenneth I. Swartz