The owner of the only private aircraft in the Arkhangelsk region, Viktor Belukhin, is in a very difficult situation. He needs the help of regional Governor Anatoly Yefremov, and if the governor does not help, the pride of the region, the Yak-18T plane, will have to be sold. There are many possible customers, as aviation clubs are developing in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Viktor Belukhin is the only private pilot in the region; the size of this territory is comparable to three Frances. Even the single pilot does not know any way for the private aviation to grow and develop in Russia’s north. This plane was the talk of the day ten years ago. Viktor Belukhin of Severodvinsk and Sergey Kornilov from Kargopol performed a transcontinental flight in 1991 on the route Russia – Australia – Russia, setting the world record as the longest flight for this class of plane.
The men covered a distance of almost 56 thousand kilometers, flying over China, Vietnam, Thailand, Singapore, and Indonesia. Seven Yak planes and an An-2 returned home without any technical problems. I recently called Viktor Belukhin and offered to meet him and talk about the fate of his aircraft; however, he was not very willing.
“There are very few owners of planes in Russia now, not more than 200 hundred, and this is the result of ten years. You can see how miserable this number is if you compare it to Sydney, where there are some 3000 pilots. Almost 60% of all work connected with the patrolling of woods and coastlines and passenger and cargo transportation is performed with the help of light planes and helicopters. They know how to count money over there. Let’s take forest-patrolling activity. The Yak-18T is much better than the An-2, which is the plane that is generally used in Russia for this purpose. The Yak-18T has a high speed of 300 kilometers per hour, and its fuel consumption is very low: only 40-45 liters per hour, whereas the An-2 uses 150 liters per hour. They cannot count money here in the north.”
This plane does not fly much now. It spends the majority of its time in the hanger. Viktor has seen a lot of officials; they all showed their sympathy, but none of them did anything to help him. Noone is willing to deal with the issue of small aviation in Russia’s north. They do not think that small aviation can bring in very good money.
Deputy of the regional assembly Mikhail Gmyrin promised Viktor to arrange a meeting with Governor Anatoly Yefremov and Speaker of the regional parliament Fortygin. The pilot absolutely refused to allow us to take his picture for this article due to the tradition that pilots have: Do not take any pictures until you have problems with your plane. However, Viktor presented a photograph that was taken ten years ago, depicting his plane in Australia.
Andrey Mikhailov PRAVDA.Ru Severodvinsk
Translated by Dmitry Sudakov