MOSCOW, July 28. /TASS/. The Canadian coast guard operation to rescue the Russian adventurer in waters of the Arctic Davis Strait was a good example of Russia-Canada cooperation in the Arctic, the Russian Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.
Sergey Ananov, who a while ago left an airfield near Moscow at the controls of a tiny helicopter in a daring attempt to circumnavigate the globe, had crashed. Though near to success, he spent two days on an ice floe, the greatest challenges to his life being the cold and polar bears.
"We are thankful to the Canadian authorities for their swift actions that made it possible to save Russian amateur pilot Sergey Ananov, who crashed while making a solo helicopter flight from North America to Greenland across the Davis Strait," the ministry said. "The search and rescue operation involved big efforts from Canada’s air force, transport ministry and coastal guards."
"It is a good example of Russian-Canadian cooperation in the harsh Arctic environment," the ministry stressed.
The ministry said the Russian embassy in Ottawa was helping Ananov to get back home.
In a telephone conversation with a TASS correspondent earlier on Tuesday, Ananov told of what happened flying above Arctic waters.
Ananov left Iqaluit for Nuuk, Greenland, aboard a Robinson 22 light helicopter on Saturday, facing an emergency on the route shortly afterwards. "One of the two belts that drive the air screws failed and the helicopter was no longer able to proceed with horizontal flight," he said.
"I had to make an emergency landing on the water, falling short of the nearest ice floe. The life raft was the sole item I managed to take out. The helicopter sank in 30 seconds."
He recalled swimming to the ice floe half-naked, "wearing only the lower part of my rescue suit: piloting the helicopter in full rescue gear is practically impossible," he said. "Then I spent two days struggling for life, my greatest challenges being the chill and polar bears." He was spotted by rescuers, lifted aboard and given first aid.
Ananov began his ambitious air journey round the globe on June 13. "It was going to be the world’s first flight on board such a light helicopter. Its mass is less than one tonne. And I was all alone," the pilot told TASS.
"The flight from Iqaluit was one of the last phases. My next stopovers would have been Greenland, and then Moscow. Of the expected 38,000 kilometres, I made 34,000. Unfortunately, I quit for technical reasons."