Colin's latest letter:
The first home-built aircraft to transit Russian Airspace is a Jabiru 2.2 powered KR2.
This is until someone says otherwise, in which case it's the first home-built aircraft to transit Russian Airspace for some time...
Rand KR2, G-BYLP, (Itzy) flew from the United States of America, across the Bering Straights, through Eastern Russia and reached the Chinese border yesterday There were four flights to transit to China. The first flight was from Nome Alaska to Anadyr in the Chukotka autonomous region, some eventual 640 miles and 5:30 hours. The second flight was to Magadan Siberia, 941 miles and 8 hours. The next flight to Blagoveshchensk and the Chinese border, 1,150 miles, had to be separated into two flights after 9 hours airborne a precautionary landing was required at an unauthorised airfield near Zeyr, feeling sick and dizzy.
After being told by countless misinformed pilots and people from all nations, that if I were to land at an unauthorised airfield in Russia, I would be arrested and my airplane confiscated, I still considered that to land and face these consequences was the best and safest option for myself and my plane. As perceived, the airport manager welcomed me with open arms. An Antonov AN-3 with a doctor on-board, which happened to land 10 minutes after my arrival, was informed of my condition and medical assistance was offered in full, but not required. The police, immigration and security forces arrived and brought two English teachers from the near by school to translate, who I think just wanted to see the plane and speak to an actual English person. After an hour of de-briefing, the police and security and all others who had gathered to witness my arrival, went out to have their photographs taken with the plane. I was offered accommodation in the pilotís lodgings and fed by the overnight airport security staff. In the morning I was given a ride into town to secure some more 95 octane benzene to make my margins of fuel endurance more than just the 20 minutes or so on-board and all of this was at no cost... I then flew on the remaining 200 miles to Blagoveshchensk and Itzy landed to a warm welcome by the airport staff and members of the local press.
My preconceived hopes and aspirations of my Russian transit flights and experiences while in Russia have been completely fulfilled. I now know that if anyone still believes that the Russian people are not anything but as warm and friendly and welcoming as any another nation, then they really need to stick some big electrodes on their head and fry that part of their brain, or just stop being so dumb!
The Russian authorities, handling agents, air traffic controllers, pilots and all the other people who I have met, some who have either given special permissions, bent a few rules or ignored certain technical facts to allow my flight through Russian airspace to continue, I have nothing but praise for. May this flight be the first of many flights now by small aircraft who want to attempt to fly around the world or transit Russian Airspace, unaided and unsupported and solo, without a Russian Navigator on-board. It can be done, my flight is the proof, if proof needed.
Let's see what China brings. I am still in Russia and may be here for some time as I try to obtain permission to fly on through The Peoples Republic of China.