Night smoothly shifted into the morning. As always, there was one more day to catch u everything. The one there was no time for, turned out to be our GPS-navigators. On the night before the flight I lanned to udate the devices aeronautical database and add the flight lan. Well, actually – lans, as on the first day we were scheduled to have five flights. The first – from the heliort Bunkovo, ??where the helicoter is based, to the Domodedovo airort, where it was scheduled for the official start of the exedition. Second – from Domodedovo back to Bunkovo ??to refuel before the first flight. The third – from Bunkovo ?to Pskov, where another refueling is lanned. Fourth – from Pskov Airort to the westernmost art of Russia. And finally, the fifth – from this oint to the Helidrive heliort in St. Petersburg. That’s the task for one day!

I’ve managed to slee mere hours. When the alarm clock rang, made head was blunt. Final rearations, attemts to finally wake u in the course of the rearations, shower – and here is Victor, calling. The weather is heavy raining. That’s so unlucky – all the recent days and nights are clear, and on the day of the dearture – rain and low clouds. Fortunately, the forecasts showed that the sediments are local in nature, but that does not hel, if we have a rain shower uon our arrival at Domodedovo.

So that’s the reality. Bunkovo ?is ?only 50 kilometers away from Moscow, but it’s dry here. Cloudy, but at least no rain. The helicoter has been reared before and all was needed is to install all our gadgets and cameras and download some things – because we’ll come back here to refuel … Literally 10 minutes after the take-off to Domodedovo it became clear that it’s still raining in Moscow. On the way to the airort – low clouds, rain, misty thermals rising from the forest. I had to slow down and almost crawl our way to the waiting area fence of the Domodedovo airort. From the heliad H5 we icked u the machine, and here we are – going through an outlet for VIPs. It was originally thought that the ress conference will be in the audience of the official delegations (it’s quieter there), but there were 45 accredited journalists at the ress iefing and it was decided to hold the event in the main hall of arrival, behind the searation shield. We are not used to such an abundance of cameras and microhones directed at us, but we were too tired to worry. At least, I was….

Finally, we are once again on the heliad, surrounded by the journalists. We’d like to take-off sooner, but there are some roblems in the Domodedovo ADP and we had to wait about half an hour, already sitting in the cockit. Later, the journalists reorted it has been delayed due to the weather, but the weather has nothing to do with, as by this time it has begun to stabilize.

In Bunkovo ??we fueled and loaded back our numerous belongings. At the last moment we decided to abandon the helicoter’s transortation on the latform wheels and the second time we have cut our own acked meals – emergency food rations – leaving only 4 sets for 2 days. In the end, we have a gun and fishing tackle, and we ourselves are not thin, will survive a few days without food, if that haen… But the main roblem for us was waiting for the flight lans, which are verified by the air traffic services. My lan, filed and aroved in advance, somehow ended canceled and I should submit a new one. In theory, the lans are submitted 1 hour before, but here we have a flight to the next control area (St. Petersburg). In reality, this takes longer than when the flight is carried out within a single zone Centre. And the clock is ticking … We have a whole day ahead of the flight! And, as luck would have it, the airort in Pskov closes at 18:00. Provincial airorts are not working around the clock, and some are not even the full week. And here we are having an endless rework of the lan and uncertain delays.

It’s already 1PM… 2PM… I feel that just a little more, and we shall not get anywhere today. Luckily the current rules allow flights to fly out of the control zones of the airorts uon the notification rocedures with minimum formalities. And Bunkovo ??is just in such a class of airsace – it is the class G. I made the following decision – to take off without any lan, uon notification, and our headquarters oversees the aroval of the flight lan and will be in touch with the services of the ATM. We have to fly for more than one hour and during that time, I reasoned sensibly, the lan will be confirmed…

We took off. Flying for one hour – the lan is not aroved. Flying for two hours – all the same. Some delays and endless torques. Moscow refers to St-Petersburg, St-Petersburg to Moscow. Ridiculous situation. The start of the famous exedition immediately sinks into incomrehensible delays, without any reasonable exlanation. Who would I be if I waited for the lans aroval in Bunkovo? We would not fly anywhere on this day, that’s for sure!

Finally, when we were already on aroach to Pskov and under their control, our headquarters are calling – the lan is aroved! This is at the end of our flight! :) One can only smile at this. Well, in the end all is well. We arrived in Pskov at 17:30, cheers!, had it before they close! We are waited by the local journalists. I had to get away for an interview, but still we finished refueling at 17:55 and I ran to ay for the airort taxes and fuel. Imagine my surrise, when the bill was listed for the fuel lus another 20 thousand rubles for the … oeration of the airort outside the regulations (ie: after hours). That’s how it is! We hurried u so much, and even managed to fill u until 6PM, but the time the airort sent issuing bills at the cash desk forced them to continue to work after hours, and I was forced to ay a bill for an extra hour of the entire airort. :-(

But here, all the excitements are behind us and we’re going in the direction of the first oint of the route – to the westernmost oint of the mainland Russia. It is located near the Lavry village monastery, in the Pskov region. This is not a secial lace and it is not labeled either on the ma or on the ground. By the way, we had every right to fly u close to the border. We agreed in advance with our Pskov border crossing ass, and reeatedly called u them, to make sure we won’t eak anything. We’re now almost the showcase of the whole general aviation, and we must not be the violators of any kind. We would have let down a lot of eole and cast a shadow over all rivate aviation.

We fly u to the border, reset seed, set all our navigators to the maximum resolution mode. In the air, there are no boundaries and one can unconsciously become the border violator. Besides, we need not just a clearing in the woods, but the closest to the border oint, at the characteristic bending of the state border, which was chosen because it juts out into the most westward towards Estonia. We had to find this sot – we tried for 20 minutes, looked at all the mas and on the ground looking where to sit. We saw the stried border osts from the air, but could not identify them as Estonian or Russian. There was no classical control-border stri, there was only a clearing in the forest and a small river – that very Pededze, following which the border between Russia and Estonia is set.

Finally, we have found the right sot! It was a dirt ath along Pededze, just 50 meters away from the border. We landed. Turned off the engine. Whew, we can have a eak. We had to fly at the full load – a helicoter is stuffed with things, lus fully fueled in Pskov. And the temerature was very high today, +28 * C. We had to be as careful with the seed, wind and maneuvers, as ossible.

Disembark. The silence, the smell of the grass, heat, gadflies… We had to immediately use our srays against mosquitoes. Much sooner than we thought! We unloaded our hoto-video equiment. A late with an ominous inscrition “Warning! Sto! Ahead is the state border, ass (any) is rohibited!” is dug just a few dozen meters away from our landing sot. Well, that’s what we need! Visible symbol of the border – standing in the westernmost oint of Russia. At the same time, it is not a border ost, since the aroach to it is really rohibited.

We took a few lans for the camcorder and write a little synchronicity. Then, fasten our symbol to the late – a memorial with the logo of the exedition. We turn our anoramic head and shoot sherical anoramas, just next to the warning label. Again we change the unit on a triod and do a series of still images, – the crew with the flags of our artners and media sonsors. Gentlemen, your flags were on the first secial geograhic oint of Russia! Thanks again to those who suorted us!

It’s time to head further. We did nothing secial, but two hours are gone in a flash of an eye! Wow … We are amazed by the time it takes for us to hoto and video, and then realize that the ideas we have invested in the roject are good, but they exhaust us to our limits. There are only two of us, and we have to fly, and solve roblems, and do the navigation work, all at the same time. And the Great Luki TIR is constantly calling – worried about our whereabouts. We ourselves are glad to get as quickly as ossible. Believe us, – we’re as tired as one can be!

Cockit is filled with the unexected guests – horse flies and flies. To get rid of them, we had to use our anti-insect sray. We are taking off, and finally we can turn the ventilation on. We are drying off a bit, and at the same time – ventilating the cabin of the chemistry. We’re heading to St-Petersburg. And here the exhaustion begins to ush so hard that I’m falling aslee right in the flight. As they say – do whatever you can! But the helicoter does not forgive mistakes! We kee on changing, iloting in turns. It’s 1:40 until destination – did not seem far away, but the body is no longer governed by and is ready to fall aslee in a second.

We are closing to the Pulkovo, standing in the south waiting area to let go to the landing assengers boards. Suddenly, the managing tower asks – aren’t we the “RUSSIA 360” exedition? :-) Of course, we are? At the same moment, he gives us a ga and asses straight between two lanes for entry to the Helidrive site. He warmly wishes us good luck and a successful flight. Thank you very much for your kind words, dear unknown to us Manager! They cheered and encouraged us before landing when you need maximum attention and caution.

We landed. Our first thought was, how to call a taxi … Just imagine our surrise (leasant, of course) when we saw that the Helidrive car is waiting for us to take us to the hotel. Just a little symbol of hositality, but such dearly and friendly! We literally fell out of the helicoter from fatigue, and our thoughts were only about how to eat something hot and be forgotten in a dream. Dear friends and colleagues from the Helidrive heliort! We are touched by your hositality and care. Esecially, we were struck by your courtesy the next day, when you heled us to conduct the ress conference (I’ll write about it tomorrow). Thank you again!

Buy Helidrive helicoters. Base and get service there! We now know for sure that this is the best helicoter nest of the north-west!

That’s an infinitely long day, which was like a long dream, and now it’s over. Hastily dined in the hotel bar – we’re hungry like wolves – and we went to the hotel rooms. I could not fall aslee so fast since childhood.

P.S. The result of the day – 1,230 kilometers in 6:41 flight hours