SAMARA, July 3. /TASS/. A Russian-French air expedition to the Arctic areas starts off on Tuesday from an airdrome in the township of Krasny Yar, Samara region. Six Russians and a Frenchman are expected to cover more than 20,000 km on three amphibious planes, airman Sergei Alafinov, the CEO of Aerovolga R & D company told reporters on Monday.
Alafinov is one of the six Russian participants in the venture.
"The route covers about 11,000 nautical miles, or 20,000 km," he said. "In Russia, it stretches through the cities like Urai, Surgut, Norilsk and then Tiksi where we’ll enter the Arctic Ocean area and then will proceed to Schmidt Cape and farther on to Providence Bay."
From there the route goes to Finland via Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Iceland, the UK, Norway and Sweden. The expedition will return to Russia from the Finnish territory and will reach the Samara region via Novgorod, Yaroslavl and Cheboksary.
The goal of the expedition is to conduct various climatic, medical and biological experiments and to design the future routes for air tourism in the Arctic north of Russia.
Also, the participants will test a number of technologies ahead of an expedition to Antarctica scheduled for next year.
The group will travel on unique amphibious planes of Russian manufacture - two LA-8 [for eight persons aboard and with the haulage capacity of up to 2.6 tonnes of cargoes] and a Borei [two seats, haulage capacity of up to 700 kg].
The list of expedition members includes the cosmonaut Valery Tokarev, who is also the mayor of Star City township near Moscow where the Cosmonauts Training Center is located, cosmonaut Oleg Atkov, who is a corresponding member of the Russian Academy of Sciences and French amphibious aviation pilot Loick Baise.