Complicated logistics, organized in the central Arctic, completed successfully – helicopters of the “Barneo-2104” expedition located an ice floe in the Arctic Ocean suitable for the camp. So called “ice island” will become the center for the Arctic research for one month.
It was uneasy to find a solid ice floe of necessary area. Polar aviation, as in previous years, played the main part in logistics. 17 March, two Mi-8T helicopters departed from Krasnoyarsk to Podkamennaya Tunguska.
Helicopters covered more than 3000 km in three days along the route – Tunguska – Igarka – Dudinka – Khataga – Sredny Island. 26 March, after a short delay caused by unfavorable weather conditions, helicopter departed from Sredny Island of Severnaya Zemlya Archipelago for the Central Arctic and with minimum fuel left landed in the circumpolar region.
Pilots reported their coordinates to Murmansk and Il-76 delivered and air-dropped 5 platforms with fuel therefrom. The plane left for the North Pole then to continue the search for an ice floe and helicopters – point with a code name “Louvers-2”.
This year, ice condition in the Central Arctic Ocean is fine. Ice fields are large enough, ice openings oriented to the E-W direction mostly. But at the approach to search area the weather started to worsen. Clear view dropped to 300 meters height and ice floes were beyond view. Decision to return to favorable weather area was taken.
Just after the turn Il-76 has entered cloudless “window”. The plane delivered fuel and equipment for troops’ camp in two runs. Landing team of the Russian Geographical Society parachuted from the 1700 meters height during the third run. The group landed 84 km from the North Pole. Helicopters came to the point soon. Temporary camp was installed right there.
Search for an ice floe continued on 27 March. Message from leader of the composite helicopter group Viktor Yatin was received towards evening: “We’ve found an ice floe for the camp! Its coordinates: 89 degrees 39’ N. There’s relatively little snow. The ice floe size is 1400-1500 meters X 200-300 meters!” Right after that expeditionary equipment and landing team were transported to the ice floe.
Il-76 with tractor and fuel aboard left Murmansk on 29 March.
Text and photos: Expeditionary center of the Russian Geographical Society