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"The beauty one is not able to tell about!" | Parachute expedition to the North Pole


Technics | Information | Sponsors | Participants | Chronology


Chronological account

Having performed the necessary formalities and having sent our thanks and greetings to all the organizers, sponsors, partners and so on and so forth, we are starting the most interesting part of our narration, namely we will now try to tell you in the chronological order about the most interesting events that happened during the preparation for the expedition and during the expedition itself. Like any story with a happy end, this story started on the eve of Christmas. Many of us received the first information about the organization of the expedition in late November - early December 1997 and thought it was a Christmas joke, but the whole thing turned out to be quite serious.

  • On December 29, 1997 our expedition was included into the official program of the World Youth Games, so the expedition got a quite official status. Then a hard routine work started for getting all the necessary authorizations and permissions in the official state departments, for specifying the necessary details and time periods. We will omit the boring information in order not to annoy you.
  • On March 25, 1998 the news about the expedition was for the first time declared publicly in presence of a great many of journalists at a press conference which was held in the "golden hall" of the Intourist hotel in Moscow. By that time the preliminary lists of the participants of the International Parachute Expedition to the North Pole had already been made.
  • On April 3, 1998 here in Moscow we were already meeting the first group of participants of the expedition - the Malaysian team. The 23 people had come long before the expedition started in order to get accustomed to the Russian climate and to get some training in parachute jumping in conditions that are so unusual for Southern parachutists. The bus with the group came from the airport straight to the center of Moscow - to the Hotel "Russia" where all the participants of the expedition were accommodated later. The first experience of Russia for the Malaysians was a walking tour around the Red Square, everything they saw was exotic for them, but they were quickly getting used to the new conditions.
  • On April, 14-15 we met the other participants of the expedition. Our whole organizing team was permanently somewhere between various airports and the Hotel "Russia", we were meeting and accommodating the arriving skydivers. The whole team of the participants got together and was acquainted with the organizers on the evening of April 15 in the conference hall of the Hotel "Russia".
  • On April 16, 1998 at 18.00 a number of buses came to the Hotel "Russia" and took the travelers and their cargo to the airfield "Zhukovsky" where an IL-76 airplane of the company "ILAVIA" was getting ready for the flight. This airplane became a home for us during the week that the expedition was lasting. Near the gate of the airfield we met a military truck with an unusual cargo - it was a platform with the Malaysian car "PROTON" which was ready for parachuting down on the North Pole. The loading took a long time. The Malaysian skydivers were shivering from cold and asking all the time: "Will it be as cold over the North Pole as here?". We flew out of the airfield "Zhukovsky" late at night. Moscow was seeing us off while displaying a slight spring frost. Despite the austere military conditions (because a flight in an IL-76 transport plane is less comfortable than that in a passenger airliner), most of the participants of the expedition had a snack and went to sleep on the hard folding benches.
  • On the morning of April 17 the town of Khatanga (71° 58.2'N, 102° 29.2'E) was greeting us with bright sunshine and a real winter frost (-25° C). The hotel located at the distance of 50 meters from the runway, seemed very comfortable after the 5-hour flight. In those April days the hotel was overcrowded with participants of various expeditions: there were skiers, balloonists and other conquerors of the North Pole. On the first night the organizers of the expedition and a part of the journalists were staying downstairs in the reception hall. The night passed quickly and merrily thanks to enjoyable conversations. Everybody was getting ready for the flight to the North Pole.
  • On April 18 the first training parachute jumps from the helicopter MI-8 started. For most of the participants of the expedition these were their first parachute jumps north of the Polar Circle. On the same day all the skydivers were getting trained in hopping out of the IL-76 airplane, which was very necessary because that unique kind of plane is used only in the Russian Armed Forces and in expeditions like ours.
  • Dogs On April 19 which was the Orthodox Easter Sunday, it was planned to send our forward party by air to the North Pole. The local inhabitants were celebrating the Day of Reindeer Herders, and the commanders of the Khatanga aviation detachment asked our skydivers to organize a kind of aviation holiday for them. We accepted the idea with pleasure, and on that day a lot of multicolored parachute canopies brightened up the sky over Khatanga. The local schoolchildren were also jumping down with our tandem instructors. Some interesting parachute piloting techniques were shown by our paramotor pilots Mikhail Yagolnikov and Aleksandr Shakovets. The spectators were fascinated. In early evening hours the members of the forward party including journalists, paramotorists and skydiving coordinators were summoned to the airfield for departure. After a quick equipment loading on board the AN-26 airplane, these people who were to make the necessary preparations in order to receive the skydivers on the North Pole, flew out to island Sredny (79° 31.3' N, 91° 08.8' E). After flying for 2,5 hours the airplane landed on a narrow strip of land amidst the Arctic Ocean. After their accommodation in the local hotel this group divided into two parts one of which went to rest, and the other part walked around the island on a sightseeing tour and came across a Home Island little island named Domashny (Home Island). That islet lost amidst the huge amounts of ice, had become the last refuge for both well-known and unknown explorers of the Arctic. Their names are hewn on their tombstones. Meanwhile the airplane crew was preparing the AN-26 airplane for flying further to the north. We spent several hours waiting for favorable weather conditions and at last the forward party flew to the Ice Airfield drifting in the ocean 140 kilometers away from the geographic North Pole. The landing on the Ice Airfield was performed already the next day - on the 20th of April. Then a long expectation of communication signals endured, and no one could exactly name the current day and hour and the duration of that state of expectation. A low cloud base hindered a flying exploration by the MI-8 helicopters for finding a suitable ice floe in the vicinity of the North Pole where the parachute landing could be carried out. Only a day after the forward party had left Khatanga, it could fly nearest to the North Pole and give the long-awaited signal to the main group of skydivers to take off and fly to the north. All that period the skydivers in Khatanga had been waiting for the signal in full readiness.
  • North Pole

  • On April 20, 1998 at 19.00 (Moscow time) the IL-76 airplane with skydivers and the car "PROTON" on board left Khatanga and started flying to the North Pole. The forward party was already waiting for the main group near the North Pole, having prepared a drop field with smokes and flags for the skydivers to land on the ice there. For the 2,5 hours of that flight the group had enough time to have a snack and relax. Nobody showed anxiety but it was more and more difficult to conceal it. Especially the Malaysian skydivers and Oleg Blotsky were excited. Oleg was to hop out of an airplane for the first time in his life, and this was going to happen over the North Pole. His tandem instructor worried too, and not less than him. 30 minutes before the start of the parachute drop the commander of the airplane gave us a signal to get ready. Everybody began putting on warm clothes and parachutes. The Malaysians prayed to Allah, and we asked a blessing from Father Viktor who was getting ready to hop out together with us. The Moscow time was 21.30. Our airplane descended down to the height of 100 meters and went over the ice landing strip for testing the conditions. Then the airplane navigator gave us the following information: "The air temperature over the North Pole is -24° and the wind speed is from 0 to 1 m/sec. " The whole skydiver crew was delighted with this news. No one had expected such ideal conditions. The airplane climbed to a higher altitude and made another circle. The height then was 600 meters. The loading ramp door opened, and we were blinded by the bright polar sun. Below us were endless glorious ice fields broken by cracks and ruptures. Down there to the beautiful ice fields went the Malaysian car "PROTON". The whole parachute team saw three huge parachutes open and fill up over the car, they smoothly carried the car down to the center of a small flat field between ice hummocks and clefts. Everybody was enthusiastic and admired the high precision demonstrated by the crew of the IL-76 airplane under the command of Nikolay Kuimov.

    The airplane makes another circle and from the height of 1500 meters at a speed of 280 km/h the first 5-man-strong group of skydivers leave the plane, among them specialists in car parachuting and Father Viktor. The airplane climbs to 2500 meters. The main group of skydivers stands in line near the edge of the ramp door and waits for the command to jump. The sharp sound of the siren embarrasses the first rank of the skydivers, but the back rows start moving to the ramp, and the whole mass of skydivers falls down into the abyss. In 35 seconds the sky over the North Pole brightens up with various colors of the parachutes. The polar silence is broken by the enthusiastic shouts of the descending skydivers and their friends meeting them on the surface. All express their emotions in their own way: some shout, others cry, still others dance, and some laugh. Already several minutes later preparations started for a new jump. The skydivers of the forward party and freshmen in skydiving took off in a MI-8 helicopter and made their independent parachute jump down on the North Pole. The main heroes of that skydiving were the 14-year-old boy Yegor Bakalov who made his first independent parachute jump, and Nordzia Bi Mohamad Noor, a Malaysian mother of five children. Then, near the symbolical signpost indicating distances to the various geographical places, everybody celebrated the event with the traditional drinking of champagne and raising of the flags of: the World Youth Games, the National Olympic Committee of Russia, the city of Moscow, and the participating countries - Russia, Malaysia, France, Portugal, Great Britain, Canada, Holland, Kyrgyzstan, Ukraine, as well as the flags of the organizations that participated in the preparation of the expedition. It is impossible to say how much video recording was done or how many photographs were taken. Two and a half hours passed quickly, everyone wanted to stay as long as possible on the North Pole, but the weather began to worsen which forced the participants of the expedition to gather fast for flying away to the Ice Airfield that was at the distance of 40 minutes flying time. Only five people were left on the ice floe, they began preparing the Malaysian car for evacuation from the North Pole.

  • On April, 21 at 02.00 (Moscow time), when the car was delivered, being suspended under the MI-8 helicopter, to the Ice Airfield, the first part of the group was already flying to island Sredny. Without delays, after refueling on island Sredny, exactly on time that group returned to Khatanga to the very familiar hotel already by 9 o'clock in the morning. Participants In the meantime, in two warm tents on the ice airfield the most frost-resistant part of the group was staying amidst the endless silence and ice hummocks, waiting for a re-establishment of signal communication. Surprisingly enough, among the group were the leader of the Malaysian team Abdul Rahim Bin Dahalan, the television team from Malaysia and Nordziah Bi Mohamad Noor. These southern people stood staunchly that test of a long stay on the ice. At this time of the year the sun is shining constantly there, so the whole period of staying on the ice was like one very long day for us. Meanwhile a day and a night passed. Waiting for an airplane to come we were not wasting the time: we told each other all the parachute stories we knew, a football match was held, and all the ice hummocks around us were explored. All the time we were together with the representative of the Executive Directorate of the World Youth Games Zhanna Sukhareva who had flown to the North Pole in the forward party and then returned to Khatanga among the latest arriving people. This small woman who was unanimously elected by us on the North Pole to be Mrs. North Pole - 98, spent a total of 2,5 days on the polar ice. Only at night on April 22 an AN-74 airplane came to take us, and 6 hours later we were reloading the car and our luggage into the IL-76 which was ready to take off and fly to Moscow. Having said good-bye to the hospitable town of Khatanga, the expedition in full strength went to the terminal point of the whole risky journey - to Moscow. No one felt tired. Everybody was joking, laughing, proposing toasts, exchanging addresses with one another and discussing new travel projects.
  • On April 22, 1998 at 18.00 Moscow time, the IL-76 airplane of the aviation company "ILAVIA" finished successfully its air voyage along the following itinerary: Moscow - Khatanga - the North Pole - Khatanga - Moscow. The plane landed on the airfield Zhukovsky. Moscow greeted the victorious expedition with a bright sunshine and friendly embraces. Buses took the tired travelers to the hotel "Russia" where all of us took a warm shower with great pleasure and had supper.
  • Egor Bakalov

  • On April 23, 1998 at 12.00 all the participants of the expedition were invited to Moscow City Mayor's Office for a press conference in order to cover the International Parachute Expedition to the North Pole, dedicated to the World Youth Games in Moscow. Valery Pavlinovich Shantsev, Vice-Mayor of Moscow, and Datuk Yahya Baba, the Malaysian Ambassador in Russia, congratulated the participants of the expedition with its successful completion. They thanked all the participants for their courage and for the fulfillment of all the tasks and objectives set for the expedition. During the celebration, in front of the television and photographic cameras Yegor Bakalov handed over to Mr. Shantsev the Flag of the World Youth Games that had been raised over the North Pole. This flag will be raised on the opening day of the Games over the main sports arena in Moscow. Oleg Prodan handed the Flag of Moscow from the North Pole over to Mr. Shantsev for keeping it in the Museum of Moscow. After the celebration was over, the participants of the expedition were simply attacked by journalists. After giving long interviews to the press, all the participants of the expedition went to the restaurant of the hotel "Russia" where they spent an unforgettable evening and where every participant of the expedition received a commemorative diploma in his name. A lot of warm words were said by the participants to one another, and everybody agreed that we will for sure get together again for new adventures. Then the participants started leaving for their homes, and it was sad to part with new friends .

We look forward to get together and meet one another again!
We are preparing new expeditions!
And we will be glad to include into our team all those
who seek adventures and need new friends!

North Pole
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