Category An Illustrated History of the World’s Largest Airline

The Russo-Baltic Works

In 1838, in Riga under Tsarist Russia, in the area known as Courland, but now the capital of Latvia — the Russko-Baltiski Vagoni Zavod (R-BVZ), the Russo-Baltic Wagon Works, was founded. It became the largest builder of railroad cars in Russia which, during the nineteenth century, built up an extensive rail network, mainly in Europe, but extending, from 1891 to 1904, to the Pacific Ocean via the Trans-Siberian Railway. In 1905, the R-BVZ started to build motor cars, producing the Russobalts, some of which were purchased by the Tsar. The Riga works also turned out farm machinery and tramcars. It was a company of considerable stature in the Russian industrial world.

In 1910, it widened its horizons further by forming an aeronautical division, building French aircraft, mainly those designed by Roger Sommer. Such progressive flexibility was inspired by the remarkable general director of R-BVZ, Mikhail V. Shidlovsky, who decided to move the aeronautical division to St Petersburg in 1912, to occupy some old factory buildings on the north bank of the Neva River. His attention was drawn to the creative talents of a young man from Kiev, and on the advice of Baron General Kaulbars, Igor Sikorsky became the chief designer of R-BVZ’s aircraft works in St Petersburg. He was not yet 23 years old.

Le Grand

Early in 1912, Sikorsky had, with the help of friends from the Kiev Polytechnic, built, after earli­er experimental types, the S-6B biplane, powered by a lOOhp German Argus engine, a type favored by Sikorsky until the Great War cut off supplies. On 14 March he established a record by carrying four passengers at a speed of 106km/(65mph). The S-6B then won a competition against seven other aircraft, including foreign entries; but Sikorsky decided to eliminate the ever-present danger of disaster through engine failure, simply by having more than one. On 17 September 1912, he persuaded Shidlovsky (who, in turn, persuaded the R-BVZ board and the Russian Army) to allow him to build a twin-engined version of the S-6B.

This aircraft, which was to become Le Grand, was built by master carpenters. Its fuselage was
made of four main ash longerons, framed by transverse and vertical members of pinewood, braced with piano wire and additional pine tie-rods, covered with a skin of 4mm (0.15in) Kostovich Arborit, a Russian patented plywood. The doped fabric-covered wings had the high aspect ration of 12-1. Sixteen Nieuport IV wheels, in eight pairs were used for the landing gear. The most remark­able feature was the cabin, which featured wicker armchairs, a table, electric lights, curtained win­dows, glass paneled doors between the cabin and thecockpit, and even a toilet in the rear.


First Cautious Steps

As early as 1912, Igor Sikorsky himself had visualized the possibility of using aircraft to survey and explore the frozen wastes of Russia’s northlands. Even before the Revolution, this advice was soon followed, when, in 1914, Jan Nagursky a Pole, flying a Farman, helped to locate the Sedov expedition that was lost in the Arctic ice of Novaya Zembla. On 20 April 1920, barely two months after the last British troops had left Arkhangelsk, the Northern Sea Route Committee was formed, and this was reinforced in March 1921 by the forma­tion of the Floating Naval Scientific Institute.

During 1924, Boris Chukhnovsky made a dozen flights in a Junkers Ju 13 to survey the Barents and the Kara Seas; while on 4 August 1925 Otto Kalvits reached Matochkin Shar, at a latitude of 73° on Novaya Zembla. During the latter 1920s, led by Mikhail Babushkin, aircraft were used to aid seal hunters and to guide shipping. On 15 February 1929, Ivan Mikheyev made a successful ambulance mission. Soviet aviation was ready for the Arctic.

The Northern Sea Route Administration

Much in the same manner that western navigators had specu­lated about the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic to the Pacific, so did Russian seamen dream of linking Arkhangelsk and Murmansk with Vladivostok via the Arctic Ocean and the Bering Strait. The role of the airplane was fully recognized from the start, and in 1 September 1930, Glavnoe upravle – nie Severnogo morskogo puti, or Glavsevmorput (Northern Sea Route Administration), was formed, head­ed by Dr Otto Schmidt, known familiarly as the Ice Commissar. He had made several voyages in the Arctic, reach­ing Franz Josef Land, the northernmost islands of Eurasia.

Glavsevmorput’s Department of Polar Aviation, established at Krasnoyarsk on 1 September 1930, and familiar­ly known as Aviaarktika, was headed by Schmidt’s deputy and right-hand man, Mark Shevelev. It moved to Moscow in 1932, and survived independently from Aeroflot until 3 January 1960, when the state airline took over all its opera­tions. Except for the wartime years and until he retired from the Air Force, Shevelev was in charge throughout.

The Administration was equipped from the start with a fleet of Junkers Ju 13 floatplanes and six Dornier Wal flying boats. By 1933, the fleet had been increased to 42, including among other types, the four-engined ANT-6 and the twin – engined ANT-4. Much pioneer work was done in establishing air routes with waterborne aircraft along the great rivers of

The Chelyuskin Rescue

Soviet aviators won their spurs in a remarkable rescue mission. In 1933, the good ship Chelyuskin left Leningrad to attempt another circumnavigation of the Soviet Union, at least as far as Vladivostok. It was almost within sight of the Bering Strait when in November it stuck in the ice. On 12 February it was crushed by an iceberg and the entire ship’s company were marooned. Dr Schmidt organized a floating — and constantly moving — camp on the ice flows, and built a landing field — also con­stantly moving — in preparation for the rescue aircraft. A whole team of aviators won their spurs, including Mikhail Vodopyanov, and especially Vasily Molokov. In a series of flights from a coastal airstrip near the ship, they saved all 104 marooned personnel, a great testimonial to the new aviation technology.

Siberia: the Ob, with a base at Omsk, on its tributary, the Irtysh; on the Yenesei, at Krasnoyarsk; at Irkutsk, on the Angara, near Lake Baikal; and on the Lena, at Yakutsk.

Expanding the Horizons

During the mid-1930s, Glavsevmorput sent out its long tenta­cles throughout the sparsely populated Siberian lands that occupy more than half of the area of Russia. Its achievement could not be measured by conventional statistics — in 1933, only 180 passengers and about 15 tons of mail were carried; but Polar Aviation pilots were learning their trade. They car­ried vital supplies, including medicines, doctors, and teachers out-bound, and valuable furs inbound — furs that would oth­erwise have taken two years to reach the stores in Moscow or Leningrad. Gathering confidence, the aircraft flew further and more often, with some pilots making some notable flights, such as those of Chelyuskin hero Molokov, reviewed on the opposite page.

Ilyushin ІІ-62ІУ

Ilyushin ІІ-62ІУ165 SEATS ■ 900km/h (560mph)

Soloviev D-30KU (4 x 11,000kg st, 24,2501b st) ■ MTOW 165,340kg (363,7501b) ■ Normal Range 7,200km (4,500mi)



Ilyushin ІІ-62ІУ


Mixed Fortunes

The early 1970s were good for the 11-62 . On 4 November 1972, it brought the Soviet airline to a new Latin American ally, Chile, where a Marxist government under Salvador Allende assumed power. The service was routed via Rabat, Havana, and Lima; but was curtailed to the Peruvian capital when the Allende govern­ment was overthrown after only two years in office.

Of great political importance was a second route to the United States, inaugurated on 5 April 1974, with direct Ilyushin 11-62 service from capital to capital, Moscow to Washington. Still stopping at Shannon and Gander, a moder­ate improvement was to omit either one or the other of these technical stops with the introduction of the Ilyushin II-62M (I1-62M-200), a modified variant of the original design with new engines and increased fuel capacity. For in spite of its record of carrying Aeroflot’s flag throughout the world’s inter­continental route network, there had been many technical problems. On 13 October 1972, on a charter flight, an 11-62 crashed at Sheremetyevo Airport in Moscow, killing 176 peo­ple. At the time, this was the greatest airline disaster on record. But the 11-62 survived all vicissitudes and remains today as Aeroflot’s front-line airliner for all long-distance routes beyond the non-stop capability of the wide-bodied Ilyushin 11-86 (see page 89).

Подпись: Short-Haul Turboprop

They Also Served

In the world of aviation, the headlines are always devoted to spectacular events; or to the biggest and the fastest. The smaller airliners, designed to match the traffic demand on hundreds of routes to regions of low population density, have passed almost unnoticed.

When the Antonov An-24 entered service on 9 October 1962, it attracted little attention. This was the year when the Tupolev Tu-104 began service to southeast Asia, the Ilyushin 11-18 to West Africa, and the first Tupolev Tu-114 flights began from Moscow to Havana. The little 40-seater twin was a poor relation, compared with these.

Yet today, thirty years later, the Antonov An-24 is still to be seen everywhere, throughout the vast expanses of European Russia, Ukraine, and Siberia, dozens of them lined

Ilyushin ІІ-62ІУПодпись: Antonov An-26 cargo aircraft at Nikolayevsk-na-Amur in 1990. (R.E.G. Davies) up at every major traffic hub, and serving countless regional route networks with regularity and reliability. While the larg­er and faster jets grabbed the headlines, the An-24 quietly got on with the job, serving the Soviet people in hundreds of small communities. When, by 1967, Aeroflot was able to claim to be the largest airline in the world, this was as much because of the efforts of the diminutive An-24 as it was of the giant Tu-114. And while the Tu-104 and the Tu-114 are now retired — honorably, it should be noted — and the Tu – 134 is approaching that status, the Antonov An-24 flies on. Like its partner, the 12-seat An-2, which came out of the same design bureau at Kiev, the now 48-seater will probably still be serving Aeroflot into the next century. It has been exported to several countries in eastern Europe, Africa, and the Middle East.

Подпись: л - %Ilyushin ІІ-62ІУThis map does not show the hundreds of bush services that radiate from all main citi<

o Nordvik



Подпись:IN THE 1960S

Подпись: Some of the main routes and many of the regionals are omitted (scale limitation; gПодпись:(before Tupolev Tu-114/llyushin II-62 services)

Kamov Virtuosity

Kamov VirtuosityKamov VirtuosityПодпись: THE KAMOV CONTRA-ROTATING FAMILY First Flight Date First Aeroflot Service Aircraft Type Dimensions-m(ft) Speed km/h (mph) Seats I4TOW kg (lb) Normal Range km (mi) No. Built Fuselage Length Rotor Diam. 1952 1955 Ka-15 6.2 10.0 125 2 1,410 390 300+ (20.5) (32.8) (78) (3,100) (240) 1957 1959 Ka-18 7.0 10.0 115 4 1,480 165 200+ (23.1) (32.8) (72) (3,260) (102) 1965 1967 Ka-26 7.75 13 110 6 3,250 400 600+ (25.5) (42.8) (70) (7,165) (250) 1980 1983 Ka-32 11.3 15.9 230 16 11,000 800 200+ (37.1) (52.2) (143) (24,250) (500)


Rather overshadowed by the preponderance of the Mil heli­copters in service throughout the Soviet Union, and some­times forgotten as world-wide interest tended to concentrate on the Mil giants (see pages 80-81), the generally smaller Kamovs deserve attention. Just as Mil perfected the tech­niques of single main rotor-plus-anti-torque tail rotor combi­nations, so did Nikolai Kamov solve the mechanical com­plexities of coaxial contrarotating main rotors, thus eliminating the need for any anti-torque device.

Getting under way with his first designs after the end of the Second World War, Kamov’s first light helicopters were for the Soviet Army, for observation and reconnaissance. But as time went on, opportunities for civilian use arose.

The Kamov Ka-15, Ka-18, and Ka-25

As with subsequent designs, the first effective Kamov heli­copter, the Ka-15, first produced in 1952, had two contra­rotating rotors, each with three blades. The Ka-15 demonstrat­ed a brisk performance, and it went into service with Aeroflot in a variety of working roles: crop-spraying, power­line patrol, gas pipeline patrol, and ambulance work.

The slightly larger Ka-18 incorporated an improved fuse­lage structure, which was slightly longer, and with modified twin vertical stabilizers, but had the same rotors as the Ka-15. In the Ka-18, however, the rotor blades could easily be removed individually, and this made the aircraft especially useful for reconnaissance in the Arctic Ocean, where the convenience of storage space on the depot ships was at a premium.

A further stage of adaptability was achieved in the new Ka-25 which made its first appearance in 1961. This had the novel arrangement by which the individual rotor blades could be folded, under power, so as to be aligned together while not in use; such mechanical ingenuity was a great credit to the Kamov design team. Also, the Ka-25K featured a small cabin underneath the main flight deck. This contained a backward­facing seat, for controlling operations when the helicopter was being used as a flying crane.

The Kamov Ka-26

All aircraft manufacturers have problems with reconciling conflicting requirements from different customers. In Kamov’s case, these appear to have been stringent demands for versatility both from the State Scientific Institute and from Aeroflot. The former wanted a helicopter that could out-per-
(Top) A Kamov Ka-32, on fish-spotting patrol, hovers over its depot ship, the Kherluf Bidstrup, in the Sea of Okhotsk.

(Bottom) Reminiscent of the Los Angeles freeways and the control thereof, this Kamov Ka-26 keeps an eye on the traffic in Vladivostok. (Vladimir Kuznetzov)

form the previous Kamovs in such activities as mapping, geo­logical survey, fish-spotting, fire-fighting, and ice reconnais­sance; Aeroflot needed one for normal passengers, mail, and freight, as well as for general agricultural use, and gas and oil pipeline patrolling. To quote John Stroud: "What Kamov pro­duced was a most ingenious multi-purpose helicopter capable of almost any task except feeding itself."

The Kamov Ka-26 was larger than the Ka-15 and Ka-18 but smaller than the Ka-25. But it was far more efficient than any previous design. Like the Ka-25, it was twin-engined, but unlike it, the tail unit was supported by twin booms, rather than by an extension of the fuselage. Its unique feature was what can only be described as the come-apartness of the fuse­lage. The rear half of what would normally be a complete fuselage could be interchanged, according to the require­ments: a small cabin for up to seven passengers, a pallet for cargo, or apparatus for crop-spraying, including a large hop­per. This could spray dry chemicals as an alternative to liquid spraying throughout extended spray-bars, and the downwash of the rotors served to disperse the powder or granules in a uniform manner.

Later versions of the Ka-26 improved the performance and capability. The Ka-226, for example (fitted with Allison engines) could carry a chemical load of almost 1,000kg (compared with the 530kg of the Ka-26) on a 1 Уг-Іюиг mission, with full reserves.

Throughout the develop­ment of the versatile Kamovs, the accent was always on economy of oper­ations — for even under the Soviet system, considerable accountability was often exercised. To borrow a sporting term, in this respect, the Kamov Ka-26 was the top seed.

The Big Baltic

The twin-engined aircraft made its first flight on 15 March 1913 (Julian) (see opposite page), and then, with two extra engines, mounted in tandem, and renamed the Bolshoi Baltiskiy (Big Baltic) it made an impressive demonstration on 13 May 1913 at the Korpusnoi military airfield. The flight lasted 20 minutes and Sikorsky was carried shoulder-high in triumph by the awaiting crowd that had assembled.

The next step was to rearrange the engines, in line abreast rather than in tandem; and this became the basic design for all subsequent versions of the big aircraft. Again renamed, this time as the Russkiy vityaz (Russian Knight) it first flew on 23 July 1913, and on 2 August set a world record by carrying seven passengers for lhr 54min.

The First Multi-engined Transport


Ploughshares into Swords

Just before the first Il’ya Muromets made its historic round-trip from St Petersburg to Kiev (page 8), on 28 June the Austrian Archduke Ferdinand was assassinated in Sarajevo and Austria declared war on Serbia a month later. On 1 August Germany declared war on Russia, which had decided, on 25 July, to support Serbia. Amid frantic mobilization for war, Sikorsky’s plans for his fine machine came to an end, at least for commercial purposes.

The E. V.K.

But the ability of the Il’ya Muromets to carry heavy loads over long distances was noted by many military minds. The Russo-Baltic Works chairman, Mikhail Shidlovsky, convinced the Russian High Command, the Stavka, that it had military applications, and in December 1914 he was instructed to create the Escadra vozduzhnykh karablei (E. V.K.), or the Squadron of Flying Ships, to perform flying duties on the Eastern Front, where Russia was engaged in a life – or-death struggle with the Central Powers, and had already suffered a massive defeat at the Battle of Tannenburg at the end of August 1914.

By 1915, the first units were deployed at Jablonna, near Warsaw, and in Galicia. Sikorsky then began to install different engines: French Renaults, British Sunbeams, the home-built R – BVZs, and other types. On 24 January 1915, he demonstrated Il’ya Muromets performance by climbing to 2,500m (8,000ft) in 49 minutes, and then climbing to 3,300m (11,000ft). The E. V.K. carried out bombing missions, with bomb loads of up to and even exceeding 680kg (1,5001b); yet the reception by the front-line commanders was lukewarm, at a time when the cry should have been "send us more Sikorskys."


The Big Baltic

■ ЯажзЗДв

1 L Щ


This picture of the Il’ya Muromets shows the engine mountings, gravity-feed fuel tanks, and the excel­lent visibility of the cabin, (photo: United Technologies)


The Big Baltic


Two Soviet Worlds

As Aeroflot settled down to its task of providing all Soviet citizens with an air service (see page 33), it concentrated on speeding up the journey times along the traditional main arteries that had been built by the Russian railroads to con­nect Moscow with all the main centers of population. Routes in European Russia extended to Leningrad, the Black Sea, the Caspian Sea, to Central Asia, and — keeping strictly to the route of the Iron Road, the Trans-Siberian Railway, to the far eastern port of Vladivostok. Except for one branch line from Irkutsk to Yakutsk, along the Lena River, the Aeroflot network was an aerial reflection of the railroad map. By the mid-1930s, this had become the framework and foundation for an ever- expanding system of air routes.

In contrast, Glavsevmorput (Aviaarktika) fashioned its sorties into the far north of Russia by a different surface mode of travel. It had to; for in the 1930s, rail lines to the north ran only to Arkhangelsk and to Murmansk, the latter completed only during the Great War of 1914-1918. Instead, therefore, of following the railway lines like Aeroflot, Aviaarktika followed the rivers and waterways, the seas and the lakes; and in the summer used flying boats and floatplanes, while in the winter it exchanged the floats for skis. Only the largest aircraft, such as the ANT-6, were ever fitted with wheels.


It’s a Long Way to Krasnoyarsk

Vasily Molokov was one of many highly trained pilots who flew for Aviaarktika, gaining experience with every flight into the snows and the ice, the swamps and the marshlands of the northlands. He came into the public eye when, in the famous 1934 Chelyuskin rescue saga, he carried 34 people — a third of the total — to safety. The next year, on 11 February, he flew a Polikarpov R-5 from Moscow to Krasnoyarsk, on the Yenesei River, via Yanaul, near Izhevsk, and Tayga, near Tomsk. He then made a flight to the mouth of the Yenesei, at Dickson, on the Kara Sea coast, arriving on 19 March, to prove the feasibili­ty of an air route to link important locations of mineral wealth, such as Noril’sk, with the vital Trans-Siberian trunk rail line and the Aeroflot transcontinental airway.

Molokov then made two epic journeys that should rank with other great, and much better known, pioneer aerial explorations. In the first, flying a Dornier Wal, he left Krasnoyarsk on 13 July 1935, and followed various rivers to the northeast, picking up the Lena near Kirensk, thence via


Yakutsk to a point near Magaden, on the Sea of Okhotsk, then to the most easterly point of Russia, at Uelen (see map), and returning along most of the north Siberian coastline, to arrive at Dudinka on 12 September. He had covered a distance of 21,000km (13,000mi).

The following year, Molokov did even better. Leaving Krasnoyarsk on 22 July 1936, he followed the same route around Siberia, surveyed the Severna Zemlya islands to the far north, and flew westwards via Arkhangelsk to arrive in tri­umph in Moscow on 19 September. In both flights, he had followed as much as possible the courses of the great rivers and their tributaries, but east of Yakutsk, he had had to cross a formidable mountain range, between the Aldan tributary of the Lena, and the Sea of Okhotsk. From Moscow after the 1936 flight, he returned to base at Krasnoyarsk from 30 September to 5 October. The circumnavigation of Russia dur­ing the three-month odyssey covered a distance of 31,000km (16,400mi) in 200 flying hours. It was a pioneering perfor­mance of immense trailblazing significance.


Opening Up The North
Opening Up The North

ANT-6 SSSR-N170, the four-engined transport that led the squadron of aircraft to the North Pole in 1937. Mikhail Vodopyanov flew Ivan Pananin and his scientific team from Rudolf Island. This picture was taken in August, when it returned to Moscow.

(photo: Boris Vdovienko)




Opening Up The North

Opening Up The North

Sheer Versatility

The pictures and drawings on this page summarize the amazing diversity of the range of helicopters that have been put into use by Aeroflot, ranging from the diminutive 20- foot-long Kamov Ka-18 to the 108-foot-long Mil Mi-10, They can carry everything, from band-aids to buses, paramedics to pipelines. They have — unlike their opposite numbers in the West — taken their place alongside the fixed-wing aircraft, wherever they are needed, for carrying people from inaccessible villages, where even the Antonov An-2 dares not land (i. e. cliff faces or swamps), and for haul­ing large and ungainly cargoes like transmission towers for electric power lines. With these fine aircraft, the helicopter design bureaux of the Soviet Union have secured their place in aeronautical development history.

Sheer Versatility

(Top right) A Kamov Ka-25K (SSSSR-21110). (J. M.G. Gradidge via John Stroud) (Right) A Mil Mi-10 transports an electricity transmission tower.

A large percentage of the nationwide high-tension electricity powerline grid of the Soviet Union was constructed with the help of flying cranes.

Подпись:(V. Grebnev) (Top left) The Mil МІ-26Т, developed from the Mi-6, with more powerful engines to drive and eight-bladed rotor, is the champion heavy – lifter, able to lift vertically a load of twenty tons. (R. E.G. Davies) (Bottom left) A Kamov Ka-26 (SSSR-19S29) on ambulance duty. (V. Grebnev)


A Country In Chaos

Had civil war not intervened in Russia, Irgor Sikorsky’s Il’ya Murometsy might have put his country in the forefront of air transport in Europe. But as the map shows, the massive foreign invasion after the Bolshevik Revolution postponed any development in this direction.


A Country In ChaosA Country In ChaosA Country In Chaos

The North Pole

The Preparations

Aviaarktika had already reached ever northwards during the late 1920s and had spread its wings far and wide across the expanses of the Soviet Union, in those areas where Aeroflot had no reason to go, for lack of people to carry in a vast mainly frigid region that was almost completely unpopu­lated, except for isolated villages and outposts. Rather like expeditions on the ground, such as those to the South Pole, Otto Schmidt, assisted by his deputy, Mark Shevelev, pushed further beyond the limits, very methodically.

The northernmost landfall in the Soviet Union is the tiny Rudolf Island, an icy speck on the fringes of the island group known as Franz Josef Land (named after an Austrian explor­er). At a latitude of 82° North, Rudolf is only about 1,300km (800mi) from the Pole and a good location for a base camp and launching site. Access to Franz Josef Land, while haz­
ardous because of the severe climate and terrain, is feasible as the twin-island territory of Novaya Zemlya accounts for about 800km (500mi) of the distance from the Nenets region.

On 29 March 1936, Mikhail Vodopyanov set off with Akkuratov in a two-plane reconnaissance of the possible air route to Rudolf Island (see map). Flying blind for much of the time, and having to contend with inconveniences such as boiling six pails of water before starting the engines with compressed air, they reached their destination, and reported that the conditions, while not ideal, were not impossible. On his return to Moscow on 21 May, Schmidt was sufficiently satisfied to make plans. He arranged for the ice-breaking ship Rusanov to carry supplies to Rudolf, appointed Ivan Papanin to lead the assault on the Pole, and selected a com­bination of four ANT-6 (G-2) four-engined bomber trans­ports, and one ANT-7 (G-l) twin-engined aircraft for the task. Vodopyanov was to be the chief pilot.

The Assault

The working party sent to Rudolf did their work well. In addi­tion to setting up a base camp and a small airstrip on the
shoreline, they rolled out a longer runway, with a slight slope to assist take-off, on a dome-shaped plateau about 300m (1,000ft) above the base camp. The squadron of aircraft flew up from Moscow, leaving on 18 March 1937. Reaching Rudolf, they began final preparations. The ANT-6s were esti­mated to need 7,300 liters (l,600USg) of fuel for the 18-hour round-trip to the Pole, and 35 drums were needed for each aircraft. Ten tons of supplies of all kinds were to be taken, and elaborate steps were taken to design light-weight and multi­purpose equipment.

There were frustrating delays, as they waited anxiously for Boris Dzerzeyevsky, the resident weather-man, to report favor­able conditions, and for Pavel Golovin, pilot of the ANT-7 reconnaissance aircraft, to confirm Dzerzeyevsky’s forecasts, and to test the accuracy of the radio beacons. On one flight, Golovin was stranded for three days when he had to make a forced landing on the ice. But eventually, the expedition received the all-clear.

Flying an ANT-6 (registered SSSR-N170), Mikhail Vodopyanov, with co-pilot M. Babushkin, navigator I. Spirin and three mechanics landed at a point a few kilometers beyond the North Pole (just to make sure) on 21 May 1937, at 11.35 a. m. Moscow time. Ivan Papanin, with scientists Yvgeny Federov and Piotr Shirsov, together with radio opera­tor Ernst Krenkel, immediately established the first scientific Polar Station (PS-1) on the polar ice, on which they eventual­ly drifted on their private ice-floe in a southwesterly direction until they were picked up off the coast of Greenland by a res­cue ship on 19 February 1938.

The North Pole