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Old 18th Jun 2017, 01:16   #21 (permalink)
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Day 14: 1997-06-02

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-02 (Day#14)

Beds like hammocks and back aches to prove it. Only Ced Hughes had the courage (or was it necessity) to use the loo and was un-hesitatingly awarded the SSM (Siberian **** Medal) by the rest of the team. Boys will be boys!!

With rain, overcast and 30 kt winds along the whole route to Kemerovo, the team abandoned plans to fly away from the hotel and instead tasked Yuri with finding other, acceptable, accommodation, which he did, though the establishment had every appearance of being a mix of ‘health club, old people’s home and brothel’. That didn’t stop the team from enjoying the sauna and dining in sumptuous surroundings, though the fare didn’t quite come up to the standards of the décor.

Their night was disturbed by mysterious ‘comings and goings’ in adjacent rooms.

[As often happens on non-flying days, people start telling stories, so let me share this with you.

The original idea for a Chipmunk Golden Jubilee flight wasn’t to go around the world in the Northern hemisphere. In fact, a flight to Australia was suggested and approval sought from ‘higher authority’. This idea was rejected out of hand on the grounds that the route to the southern hemisphere had little connection with the history and development of the Chipmunk. Whilst essentially true, notwithstanding a few ‘ag-truck’ conversions, the Aussies (and yes, the Kiwis too, Bevan et al.) have taken the Chipmunk to heart, even though it never served with their armed forces. And so the plan for Exercise Northern Venture was developed instead. One wonders (well, at least I do) how different might have been the fate of WP833 and WP962, had that ‘Expedition Austral Venture’ been approved. I guess it isn’t too late, and the adventurers would follow (assuming they launched from the UK) many a de Havilland before them. I suggest the launch point be Mildenhall ... maybe Mondelez would sponsor it, for old times' sake. But right now I’m just hangar flying. :-) ]




Flight planning at Omsk, with an ‘official’. Hopefully, getting out tomorrow.
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Old 18th Jun 2017, 01:24   #22 (permalink)
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Day 15: 1997-06-03

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-03 (Day#15)

Omsk (RU) – Kemerovo (UNEE – RU)
441nm; 4h55*; Purchase (833) / Cowan (962)


* This leg equalled the previous unofficial DHC-1 flight duration world record, which was set during the 1996 attempt, by Cowan and Hughes, between Kiev (UKKK) and Moscow (UUEE) – though a ‘mere’ 418 nm.

Rain in the morning delayed departure until shortly after lunch, when the Chippies set off over dense forest, in close formation as poor weather forced them to deviate frequently from -D->.

Kemerovo appeared to be a modern field but, once again, no Avgas, so the Chipmunks were fuelled from the Mogas carried in six 20 litre cans in the Islander.

Arrival at the hotel was late, but they at least were able to order a meal, described only as ‘stodgy’ – but after sixteen hours without food and five hours in a Chipmunk cockpit, what was there to complain about?


Omsk Air Traffic Control facilities, prior to departure.


Day 15: UNOO-UNEE 441 nm, 4.92 hrs, GS 90 kts. Cumulative 3501 nm, 36.43 hrs, Average GS 96 kts.


Not too far off the Great Circle (+16%). Things will change!

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Old 18th Jun 2017, 01:32   #23 (permalink)
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Day 16: 1997-06-04

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-04 (Day#16)
Kemerovo (RU) – Krasnoyarsk (UNKM - RU) –
227nm; 2:55; Purchase (833) / Cowan (962)

An eventful day.

As the team all rode the hotel lift to collect their luggage, it came to a grinding halt. After 40 minutes in total darkness the lift was winched manually down to the preceding floor, enough to allow a 2 ft aperture to be opened through which they each crawled and jumped to the floor. Apparently the lift could only take four persons, but not a sign to that effect was in evidence! You just had to know (maybe they teach this sort of stuff in Russian schools?)

Next challenge: getting transport to the airport (taxis being non-existent). By now though, Yuri had this mastered: he simply commandeered passing vehicles and instructed the driver to “Take these guests of the Russian Air Force to the airport forthwith”. Drivers simply accepted his orders and were happy enough to be given various badges and other venture-related freebies as recompense.

After initial poor weather the leg to Krasnoyarsk went well, though the cold temperature on arrival matched the reception. Multiple ‘security’ spooks appeared and ran back and forth from a tinted-windowed Merc. Tony Severs was reprimanded for taking photos of the airport facilities and had his roll of film confiscated by ‘security’ and exposed on the spot. [Probably, 20 years later, it is now no threat to Tony’s well-being to reveal that he had hastily pocketed the offending film and replaced it with a blank cassette! Cool operator.��]

Airport admin took five hours, and on top of that, there was no Avgas and none to spare in the Islander, so the only choice was to back-track 70 nm to Achinsk and uplift some there … tomorrow.

A frustrating day in which it had taken 12 hours to cover 227 nm, with 70 yet to back-track. The good news? The hotel was of a surprisingly good standard.


Bill (in WP833) leads Ced, en-route UNEE – UNKM


An illicit and obviously very state-threatening photograph taken by Tony Severs at Krasnoyarsk, of the Chippies and Islander in front of an Ilyushin Il-86. Not good marketing in the choice of airline name, eh??

[This is a good photograph to use to point out that both the Chipmunks went around the world with their spinners fitted THE WRONG WAY! The ‘official’ spec clearly shows the spinner being fitted so that its colours match the blade emerging on each side. (Paul Green, take note ;-)) I think that it is intuitive, because of the alternating nature of the pattern, to fit spinners this way, and I bet more than half are today ‘incorrect’. WP833 has been restored so as to be authentically incorrect!]


Day 16: UNEE-UNKM 227 nm, 2.92 hrs, GS 78 kts. Cumulative 3728 nm, 39.35 hrs, Average GS 95 kts.


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Old 18th Jun 2017, 01:38   #24 (permalink)
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Day 17: 1997-06-05

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-05 (Day#17)
Krasnoyarsk (RU) – Achinsk (UNKS – RU)
65nm; 0h45; Hughes (833) / Purchase (962)
Achinsk (RU) - Bratsk (UIBB - RU)
383nm; 3h40; Hughes (833) / Purchase (962)

Back-track to Achinsk for fuel, which was efficiently provided, but then the inevitable admin bottle-neck was encountered. Ced and Bill decided to just get on with things, leaving Tony Cowan and Yuri to deal with the bill-paying. Yuri observed that the team were learning ‘Russian ways’ at a good pace.

Climbing and descending to avoid cloud along the route the pair made good progress, periodically reporting “Level at 3,300m”. Efficient refueling gave the team time to chat to a Mig pilot who, in excellent English, disclosed that he got about an hour a month flight time, such was the state of the Air Force budget.

Despite it being early June the temperature was around 8 Celsius.

An overcast Bratsk dispersal.


Day 17: UNEE-UNKM-UNKS-UIBB 448 nm, 4.42 hrs, GS 101 kts. Cumulative 4176 nm, 43.77 hrs, Average GS 95 kts.




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Old 18th Jun 2017, 01:48   #25 (permalink)
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Day 18: 1997-06-06

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-06 (Day#18)
Bratsk (RU) – Kirensk (UIKK - RU):
229nm; 2h30; Purchase (833) / Cowan (962)
Kirensk (RU) – Lensk (UERL - RU):
277nm; 2h50; Cowan (962) / Hughes (833)

Taken on a sightseeing trip to the Bratsk Dam, the second largest in the world, by the airport manager, and then interviewed by Bratsk TV back at the airport.

On the leg to Kirensk there were ‘wall-to-wall trees’ (the Siberian ‘taiga’, massive fires in which in 1996, had put an end to the first attempt). A ‘mere’ 5.5 million roubles for Islander fuel, plus ‘security’, parking, meteorology, air navigation and sundry other items (the Chipmunks were again filled with fuel carried on the Islander).

On arrival at Lensk Dave Gill topped-up all eight Chipmunk rocker-boxes. Oil consumption is comparatively high, given that the flying is all S&L (the RAF had opted not to have VinTech perform the ring-mod prior to departure).

Kirensk - in the background are some ten AN-2s and a Mil-8(?).


Kirensk - these Antonovs were grounded because of a lack of fuel. Is that beginning to sound familiar?


The Chipmunks enjoyed a good tailwind inbound to Lensk which, though designated grass, was just a dirt and gravel strip cut out of the virgin forest.


Day 18: UIBB-UIKK-UERL 506 nm, 5.33 hrs, GS 95 kts. Cumulative 4682 nm, 49.1 hrs, Average GS 95 kts..





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Old 18th Jun 2017, 01:59   #26 (permalink)
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Day 19: 1997-06-07

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-07 (Day#19)
Lensk (RU) – Yakutsk (UEEE – RU)
452nm*; 4h35; Hughes (833) / Purchase (962)
* This leg set the unofficial DHC-1 point-point distance world record.

An early and efficient departure (for once) was hindered when Bill purchase suffered very rough running at about 200ft on the climb-out from Lensk - but he made it back to the field. Dave Gill performed a full change of plugs (they were all covered in black deposits), which fixed that problem. (By the time the expedition cleared Russia, 56 plugs had been replaced.)

The plan had been to follow the river to Yakutsk, but in the end, seeing that the ‘wall-to-wall’ trees had thinned into fairway-like stretches of green between them, the direct route was taken, and about 30 nm saved. More reporters and TV crews at Yakutsk, but no fuel for the Chipmunks, necessitating a local ‘hop’ on departure.
Transport arrived after a four hour wait. Refused admission to the first hotel (‘union and party members only’) so lodged at the Hotel Lena.



The hotel in Lensk - beds that sagged like hammocks; no showers or hot water.


Lensk dispersal, ready to go


Waiting for transport into the town of Yakutsk… Dave Gill completed the 50hr inspections on both Chippies while they waited!


The apron at Yakutsk, with a Tu-154 and a flock of An-24s


and on the apron at KLAX right now – not many Anto-yushi-pevs in sight these days. But I don’t think there’s a fuel problem either !

(Charlie, the 777 is named “Mikhail Bulgakov”, who was a famous writer, best known for a novel “The Master and the Margarita”. I42)

Day 19: UERL-UEEE 452 nm, 4.58 hrs, GS 61 kts. Cumulative 5134 nm, 53.68 hrs, Average GS 96 kts.




[


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Old 18th Jun 2017, 02:04   #27 (permalink)
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Day 20: 1997-06-08

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-08 (Day#20)
A planned non-flying day – dealing with domestic chores and resting. The hotel had functioning showers, though the water was deep brown and smelly!
Yuri had got better knowledge of where fuel for the Chipmunks was likely to be available and this necessitated re-planning, taking a more Northerly course towards the Bering Strait.
Already at 62° N, the nights remained bright and the day-time temperature was now in the mid 30s C.
More TV interviews.
[Meanwhile, in real-time, off to the RAFM to do some aeronautical research with Paul Greenand Chris Fopp(and with WP962).]

A statue of Comrade Vladimir Ilyich Ulyanov, best known simply as ‘Lenin’, in the main square of Yakutsk.


A somewhat dilapidated log building, yet still characterful and even in part ornate, sits on the permafrost.


The route as re-planned, from Yakutsk (UEEE) to Providenya Bay (UHMD). Inset: the back-track to Magan for fuel.
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 14:23   #28 (permalink)
 
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So not quite sure what your point is then, Tankengine?

As you note, they never set out to claim any record, and as far as I can tell, they did actually go around the world.

I'm with I42 on this - having about 16 long days of flying Chipmunks xc in the US, i.e. with far better-equipped ATC facilities and airfields, never exceeding 2.25 hrs, I have no idea how they coped with legs extending at times to almost 5 hrs and on marginal food intake at times. After 2 hrs I'm ready to throw myself out the side.

Try it!
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 16:33   #29 (permalink)
 
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Neither military or pilot can I just say what a wonderful enterprise and a delightful illustrated story to read and admire . May not have been round the world in some definitions but just that long long slog across Russia is praiseworthy in itself for determination and resourcefulness
Salut
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 16:52   #30 (permalink)
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Quote:
I have no idea how they coped with legs extending at times to almost 5 hrs and on marginal food intake at times. After 2 hrs I'm ready to throw myself out the side.
I agree. Last year on the return home from Oshkosh - which is where I met Charlie - we had unusually weak headwinds and so had a blistering ground-speed of ~80 kts. Although it was nice to be flying a vintage aircraft as old as me and to be the object of admiring attention wherever we stopped (the aircraft that is, not me!), I confess to wishing many times, as we droned across the plains of North Dakota and Montana, that I was in something 100 kts faster than a Stinson 108!
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Old 19th Jun 2017, 19:53   #31 (permalink)
 
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I'm with WP833 and I42 as well. Every year I attend a fly-in some 720 nm distant, so that's 16-17 hours or so, spread over two days each way, food, great facilities available all the way and still I get home utterly shattered and wondering why I bother to do this. So this effort is mightily impressive, and that's an understatement!
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Old 20th Jun 2017, 04:52   #32 (permalink)
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Day 21: 1997-06-09

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-09 (Day#21)

Yakutsk (RU) – Magan(uncoded – RU)
8nm; 0h05; Hughes (833) / Cowan (962)
Magan (RU) – Tomtor(uncoded – RU)
388nm; 3h55; Hughes (833) / Cowan (962)

Breakfast not being available until 08h15 quashed hopes of an early departure. After a third encounter with the local TV crew (obviously desperate for something newsworthy) the Chipmunks made a couple of low passes at Magan to clear the runway of semi-wild ponies before landing to uplift fuel. Then began the four hour process of settling accounts (initially 6,000,000 roubles, but knocked-down by two thirds, before the additional 3,000,000 roubles for fuel, parking, ‘security’ (of course!) AND pony-chasing!).

Departure for Tomtor finally at 15h00 and four hours later, arrival to a 20 knot cross-wind. Just about the whole town was out to greet the intrepid aviators. Quite by surprise, a drum of Avgas was awaiting them, its source unknown. Accounts were settled quickly.

Since breakfast, nothing more than a Yorkie bar, but nothing available to eat in the town: people were simply living a subsistence existence. Eventually a loaf was provided and cut into six pieces with a knob of butter each.

[And today, in 2017, I’m off to have lunch with Bill and Pauline Purchase. Let’s hope there’s more awaiting me than a 2” lump of bread!! Think I’ll pick up a Yorkie on the way, just in case.]


Wild ponies canter around the airfield dispersal at Magan.

Tomtor has the distinction of having had the coldest recorded temperature in any inhabited locality.

My Cyrillic reading skills are rudimentary, but I can read numbers OK, and it looks like this stone tells us the record was -109.2F (-72C). That’ll freeze your lungs or your eye-lids shut in moments!

[Charlie, not quite right. -72º C is -97.6º F. The reference to 109.2 is the difference between the coldest temperature and the hottest, which would be +37.2º C. I42]




Day 21: UEEE-Magan-Tomtor 396 nm, 4 hrs, GS 99 kts. Cumulative 5530 nm, 57.68 hrs, Average GS 96 kts.


Last edited by India Four Two; 20th Jun 2017 at 08:01.
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Old 20th Jun 2017, 04:58   #33 (permalink)
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Day 22: 1997-06-10

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-10 (Day#22)

Tomtor (RU) – Zuryanka (UESU – RU)
272nm; 2h35; Cowan (962) / Purchase (833)
Zuryanka (RU) – Cherskiiy (UESS – RU)
309nm; 2h45; Purchase (833) / Hughes (962)

Without dwelling too long on the topic, the single loo was provisioned with a paper-back novel for obvious use, from which the locals were considerate enough to remove pages from the back; the team reasoned that this was because no-one would wish to be using the facility long enough to finish the book!

No food for breakfast, so a long drink of orange-flavoured water. Over marshy and wooded terrain to Zuryanka, only to find the airfield closed due to spring thaw flooding and the satellite field, imaginatively called ‘Zuryanka 9km strip’ (it being 9 km from the primary field) being the necessary destination. Even ‘Z9’ had muddy areas, though the runway seemed firm enough. Refuelling was delayed until the commercially-operated AN-24s had been serviced, but then on to Cherskiiy, with the trees beneath them dwindling and areas of snow and ice increasing.

Whilst awaiting their fuel at ‘Z9’ the team were witness to a fully-loaded AN-24 going off the taxiway and becoming bogged-down in mud. A truck was used to attach a steel hawser to the undercarriage leg and simply haul the plane back onto the taxiway, whereupon it continued its progression to the runway and departed. [Wouldn’t have happened like that with an F-27, would it, Rod?]

Things were initially a little tense on arrival at Cherskiiy, with many security personnel showing concern at the arrival of the foreigners, presumably because of the predominantly military nature of the airfield. Despite having been in country for two weeks customs forms were required and a 'consent to remain overnight' was produced. Eventually relationships warmed a little.

Delapidated buildings in the town and further expense just getting food for the team, paying about five times the cost of similar produce back in the UK.

Zuryanka 9 km strip – perhaps that is ‘the’ AN-24??


Increasingly rugged terrain as the route progressed NE across the Siberian wastes [sound dramatic, eh?]


All smiles after initial suspicion on the team’s arrival at Cherskiiy.


The team’s Cherskiiy accommodation – a three-bedroomed apartment in one of the more salubrious parts of town.


Day 22: Tomtor-UESU-UESS 581 nm, 5.33 hrs, GS 109 kts. Cumulative 6111 nm, 63.01 hrs, Average GS 97 kts.


No longer close to the Great Circle!


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Old 20th Jun 2017, 05:43   #34 (permalink)
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Day 23: 1997-06-11

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-11 (Day#23)

Cherskiiy (RU) – Keperveyem(UHMK – RU)
120nm; 1h20; Purchase (833) / Cowan (962)
Keperveyem (RU) – Anadyr(UHMA – RU)
336nm; 3h20; Cowan (962) / Hughes (833)

At 69 degrees North, the team experienced the midnight sun.

The ‘salubrious’ apartment was found to have no runing water however.

Attempting to leave they were presented with a bill for 1,200,000,000,000 roubles. After four hours of ‘negotiation’ this was reduced to 9,800,000 roubles (about GB£1,170) for landing, refueling, air navigation and a met forecast.

Keperem proved to be another dirt strip, with plenty of dust and mosquitoes. Leaving again required the charade of high fees and much negotiation (Bill pretending to faint at one point).eventually resolved things to a modest 1,700,000 roubles (GB£200), but at least it took only an hour.

Pushing onward to Anadyr and the Bering Strait over frozen landscapes the team arrived to find the promised Avgas was nowhere to be seen.

The hotel had no running water in the shower, and food was scarce, but tomorrow held the prospect of leaving Russia and crossing the Bering Strait, into Alaska.

Keperem airfield, which employed 200 people to support typically three aircraft per day.


Approaching Anadyr over the frozen wastes. This was actually a hard-surface runway with gravel dispersal areas.


Day 23: UESS-UHMK-UHMA 456 nm, 4.66 hrs, GS 98 kts. Cumulative 6567 nm, 67.67 hrs, Average GS 97 kts.







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Old 20th Jun 2017, 05:53   #35 (permalink)
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Day 24: 1997-06-12

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-12 (Day#24)
Anadyr (RU) – RTB

310nm; 3h40; Hughes (833) / Purchase (962)

A clear start to the day. Breakfast was composed of the remaining rations which were prepared by the kitchen staff of a snack bar. Despite the good spirits the day had engendered so far, things took a usual turn at the airfield: charges which were settled at about GB£1,370 didn’t include fuel, because there was none. The team were therefore left with no option but to make three journeys to a local garage for 92 octane petrol. After tests, which included Dave Gill burning a sample, it was determined that the fuel was usable.

With everything set for the leg to Providenya Bay, and thence into US territory, the need for Yuri’s services had been fulfilled. He was bought his return ticket to Pskov and given a generous bonus.

The Team departed about 13:00, the Islander overtaking the Chipmunks and checking out prevailing conditions at Providenya, since the cold ice mass of the Bering Sea could produce significant fog and overcast if the wind turned on-shore. Tony Severs’ relayed Providenya ATC’s reports of low cloud and “20 knot fog” ! Continuing at endurance speed in hope, the sensible precautionary decision was made at the point of no return, to execute a 180 and head back to Anadyr. 3 hrs 40 mins airborne for no forward progress.

The team discovered that Yuri had already departed for home and was met by the airport admin staff with the comment: “Who will pay now”? Despite the loss of their interpreter, they managed to re-claim their previous night’s accommodation and find a meal of (once again) frankfurters and reconstituted mashed potato.

All in all, a frustrating day.


Yuri makes his last refueling of the aux tank in WP962


The terrain inland from Anadyr


Day 24: UHMA-PNR-UHMA 310 nm, 3.66 hrs, GS 85 kts. Cumulative 6877 nm, 71.33 hrs, Average GS 96 kts.


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Old 20th Jun 2017, 06:23   #36 (permalink)
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Day 25: 1997-06-13

ATW Retro-blog: 1997-06-13 (Day#25)

Anadyr (RU) – – Providenya Bay(UHMD – RU)
267nm; 2h50; Purchase (833) / Cowan (962)
Providenya Bay (RU) - Nome (PAOM – US)
208nm; 2h15; Cowan (962) / Hughes (833)

No breakfast so the last five Yorkie bars on the Islander were consumed [the one shown just the other day must have been Bill’s personal emergency ration]. Fuelling with the Mogas went more efficiently this morning, although the driver did have to be discouraged from smoking whilst surrounded by 120 litres of fuel, all in cans! Even accounts were settled pretty quickly, the airfield staff seemingly now caught up in the adventure and willing the team to make it through to Providenya.

The previous day’s modus operandum was adopted, and the Islander relayed encouraging reports from Providenya ATC. Tony Severs made a number of approaches to the airfield to familiarize himself with the territory, should conditions require a lead plane. He then returned to rejoin the Chippies about ten miles out (those GNC 250s really proving their worth now).

The Islander led the Chipmunks in VMC around an island and along a fjord until about 2 miles out, when fog was encountered. The Chippies then formated on the Islander as Tony Severs led them in to the field, landing long to allow the Chipmunks to decelerate, extend flaps and land behind. There was, allegedly, a moment of drama when one of the Chippies overtook the other on roll-out, urging his colleague to “move over” in no uncertain terms.

The Air Trafficker who had been speaking to the crews came out to meet them on the dispersal and show them a 405 litre drum of Avgas which had been delivered from Nome. Crossing the Bering Strait on Mogas still wasn’t a sensible provision. So was the replacement of all the spark plugs with new ones, the last available unused.

Problems though – remember the ease with which they entered Russia? (see ATW Retro-blog: 1997-05-26.) Now there were problems with leaving, and the prospect of being denied permission. Eventually good sense prevailed and after exchanging some ATW gifts the clearance to depart was granted.

The fog rolled away and the team departed, climbing to 5,000 feet and traversing the Bering Strait over a layer of marine stratus.

Arrival in Nome was a life-changing experience: Air Traffic staff rushed to fetch burgers and fries for the starving team; customs formalities were efficiently completed, though the staff were surprised to find British personnel arriving from the West; showers, the first in eight days; washing facilities (those flight suits needed it!); and a second meal at the end of the day before crashing out in accommodation held for ATC staff, the only hotel being already full. [You really need to read the ‘unofficial’ ATW book to fully appreciate this].

A Chipmunk ventures along the coast towards Anadyr.


A last look at Providenya Bay and at Russia.


Ced and Tony closed-up for Bill to take what is surely THE iconic photo of the whole venture.


The Chippies on the ground at Nome.

[I note that this photo reveals that the mast mounted in the rear cockpit (Lower-right), so smartly observed by Rod Blievers [“Doesn't the wind sock/mast stuck in the rear cockpit slow you down?” 2017-05-15 @ 02:58] is in fact one more of the ATW mods [ Chris Lee-McCloud “Charlie, is there much evidence of the long-range mods? 2017-05-27 @ 05:12]), as is evident in the Nome frame, where the Stars and Stripes has been hoisted as a courtesy flag. I hadn’t previously realized this! ;-) ]


Day 25: UHMA-UHMD-PAOM 475 nm, 5.08 hrs, GS 94 kts. Cumulative 7352 nm, 76.41 hrs, Average GS 96 kts.






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Old 20th Jun 2017, 08:08   #37 (permalink)
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I have added the IATA airfield codes to the daily summary above each map, so that its is easier to see the day's progress.

Whoops!. Charlie has pointed out to me that I should have typed "ICAO airfield codes"! That's what I meant to type of course.

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