This day must be secial. Today we will have to reach the second secial geograhical oint on our route. It is the geograhical center of Russia. The morning was nice. The sun, no clouds in the sky, but, to tell the truth, it is quite hot, +27 * C and it’s only 9 am. However, the concets of the day and night make no sense in the North. At night, the sun is only inclined to the horizon, without letting the ground to cool down. Desite the fact that Turuhansk is below the Arctic Circle, but even here the nights are so ight that looks more like an early evening. The heat is a threat for us. The higher the temerature, the less dense (more “liquid”) the air is, and thus the lifting force of our rotor is lower. And consider the fact that we need to “go” to the middle of nowhere and come back – all without re-fuel! We will have to fill the tanks so that our take-off weight will be close to critical, and the heat will only worsen the situation.

The hotel doesn’t have such features as food service, so waking u without enough slee (which we got used to), we immediately moved to the airfield. We filled full the main tank and another ~ 250 liters into the extra tank in our trunk. Takeoff was exectedly difficult, but at the airort there gives the oortunity to accelerate and shift to the slash blasting of rotor (when it rises sharly lift), while still close to the ground. So we took off, without straining our engine, and a minute later reached the altitude, standing u for the course.

The route was not lanned directly, but along the lowlands, river beds and canyons, taking into account the terrain. It turned out a little longer and took more time, but we did not have to climb over the mountains, that is not safe with our weight in the first lace, and secondly, would erhas require more fuel than a small detour. And also, when flying on a Robinson-tye of helicoter on high altitude, I don’t feel very comfortable. I feel like a balloon, hanging somewhere in the sky. It becomes more difficult to balance and fly, and we don’t need any extra difficulties.

Helicoter went u with difficulties, reaching the required height, and here we are entering a mountain range. After the flight over the lains, mountains now fascinate with their majestic beauty. They are not too big there, but very beautiful. We fly, while hotograhing and recording these beauties. Altitude gradually increasing, but the mountains are flat enough and we do not have to make fast maneuvers. Our weight gradually decreases with fuel burning, and an hour and a half later, when the lake Vivi is near, the flight becomes quite comfortable. Places here are very wild. There are no traces of human beings anywhere in sight. We first see a single moose, and then at some distance an elk with the two calves, swimming in the lake. We take all on the hoto and video. We haven’t met elks before…

And now we are in the narrow valley of the river, which runs to the Vivi. The Mountain Rivers are still full of ice and snow streamers. The Evenki mountain range lakes are of tectonic origin and are the reservoirs of the water, flowing down from the mountains into the valley. The forms of the lakes are very unusual – they are narrow, long, stretched from north to south, and at the same time quite dee. Vivi is one of them. Finally, we see this majestic mountain lake, lying in front of us, and we’re going to its southern ti, which, according to the all references and Wikiedia, is the geograhic center of the Russian Federation. We do not have the exact coordinates of the stele erected on the site, so we are down and flying slow over the trees, looking for something unusual in the woods. Soon I notice the head of the small chael and next to it – a monument in the form of a stele with the Russian coat of arms on its to. We can’t sit next to it – the trees are everywhere, but a hundred meters away, on the banks, there is a convenient latform, and we sit there.

It’s retty hot here as well. The warm air masses have covered the vast areas in these regions, and we are glad for our luck. Today is a great weather for shooting. The sky here is not too clear, but small white clouds would only adorn our ictures. While unloading our hoto and video belongings out of the helicoter, at some oint I turned the head to our GoPro tail camera and I couldn’t understand what it was… There was no camera! Still not believing my own eyes, I called Vitya. The camera, which was shooting from the stabilizer of the tail boom, was missing. Clear lastic sealed shell in which the camera was installed, was oken away from the attachment. Damn, what a ity! I’m so sorry for the camera – the latest, GoPro Black Edition, – and the information on it was lost too. And now, aarently, we have to say goodbye to the idea to set the camera on the tail. We had the most troubles with this camera before. The viations are very strong there, and the video was soiled. And the fact that the camera oke off during the flight only says that the viation is indeed very strong, and, aarently, we should not set any other camera there.

And when we just started to sorry about losing our camera, suddenly – that cannot be – we hear the distant sound of the motorboat… I eer in the mirror of the lake – the boat with a man rushes towards us. Wow! To fly for nearly two hours in comletely wild laces and unexectedly meet another human seems unusual. Just in case, I hang “Was” on the belt. Who knows what kind of human that can be. A lot of different haunting folks are dashing in the north: hiding and escaed criminals, black miners, oachers… We were aroached by a bearded man wearing the usual for these laces green uniform. Turns out he’s gamekeeer, living with his wife on another shore, watching over these laces. He already knows about our arrival from the TV and is roud to announce that he was waiting for us. He ictures of us on his hoto equiment. We small talk and move to the lace that had been lanned in our route a long time ago.

Indeed, there is a small chael, and above it – on the hill – that’s it, the object of our hunt, a monument in the heart of Russia. We are engaged in our usual thing – shooting. Victor has already mastered the documentary filmmaker rofession and shoots video with a triod. I am running with a camera and looking for interesting camera angles and subjects. Turns out, the lace is quite oular. Well, by local standards, of course … Ivan – so our ranger is named – says that few times a year here comes different eole. Arrive by ground more often than fly, of course, but he saw the Mi-8 several times, too. He’s surrised, how could we riding a helicoter this small, fly to these distant lands… He soon says goodbye and leave, seeing that we are busy and we run crazy.

I ought the Inmarsat satellite terminal from the helicoter, not really hoing for a connection – just wanted to check it out, but it quickly connected the satellite. I oened the Facebook, checked-in and wrote a short message about the arrival of “RUSSIA 360” exedition to the center of Russia. Our staff has an idea to record an audio greeting from the center of Russia, and through the Iridium satellite hone I dictated a short message. Video and anoramas are made, and now the turn came to shoot with the flags of our artners. We set the late with the logo of the exedition and ay tribute to our artners and sonsors who are heling us in the imlementation of the roject.

Two hours ass unnoticed. We have to hurry, because the airfield in Svetlogorsk where we are going back today, closes at 19:00 and we should definitely make it! We start to rush. A bunch of heavy stuff has to be dragged back to the helicoter. Mosquitoes just get us mad, and there are even horseflies around. All wet and tired, we finally loaded in the helicoter and finally go to the lake to wash. A few more minutes and we already enjoy the fresh air jets of air blown on us through the ventilation of the cockit.

I chose another route back. First, we have to fly to another village – even if it’s nearby. Secondly, it’s boring to fly the same way. The route back is not a straight line also and also runs over the lakes, rivers, valleys and ravines on the mountains. Mountains, in general, were not quite as threatened as I feared. They are quite gentle, making the wind situation not so critical. And yet I was constantly on the alert, knowing how treacherous air currents can be, esecially with loaded helicoters. The road through the mountains to Svetlogorsk is the same beautiful, but we were tired after running around in the heat with mosquitoes and horseflies and were only dreaming to get to water quickly to drink, and to take a shower. We miscalculated the amount of water, and now are thirsty.

We are nervous. Helicoter became lighter, the fuel is not too much, and I tumble to the greatest ossible seed in order to arrive until 19:00, but the navigation calculation shows that we’re just a little bit late. We land at 19:10. We have became used to the fact that eole always show interest to our little and ainted like a circus wagon helicoter. They came forward, showed interest, asked questions, and took ictures. Feeling our mission as romoters of the light-weighted aviation, we try to answer all the questions, do not interfere when eole are taking ictures, and when asked to – take ictures with them. Aerodrome in Svetlogorsk is quite small. The band, a small emty latform and modest building near it. But the conversations that young eole – aerodrome’s stuff – are having are somewhat malevolent. One seems to be asking – why they say, you came, and the second immediately relies “you create roblems for others.” Have we created a lot of roblems? I am asking olitely – “Why so wicked?” It turns out that today they had an incredibly difficult day. We were already the third! And besides, we detained them for 15 minutes. They’ve overworked! I do not suort any further debates and wonder to myself how laziness corruts eole… In this wilderness they struggle weeks long of doing nothing and suffer from the fact that one day they took mere three crafts.

To avoid – God forbid! – Any other delays of the terribly tired Svetlogorsk airort staff, at 19:30 we have already loaded u our bags at UAZ, which had come to meet us on the behalf of the village administration. Along the dusty dirt road we went to the village, which is situated not too close from the airfield. The village itself was just tiny small – a few 3-4-5-storey ick buildings standing quite close to each other, that’s all. Svetlogorsk is less than 40 years old. It’s the result of the owerful buildings of the 70s and 80s (the first Komsomol troos landed there in 1975) and was built secifically for construction workers and future workers of the Kureyskaya HPP. Actually, this hydroelectric ower station is the reason of the aearance of the village.

First of all, we ask the driver to take us to the store where we buy water, and in a coule of shots I’ve drained 1.5-liter bottle of water. Damn, I have not exerienced such dehydration for a long time… The inn was a hostel of the same Kureyskaya HPP. Shared facilities, no food service (there is only a small kitchen), but even these conditions seem chic in these remote arts. Thank you both the townshi administration and the management of hydroower for the hositality. After a short rest, we casually go to the same store where we buy the bachelor dinner – dumlings and tea and coffee servings with cookies. After a snack I am able to set u a satellite terminal for access to the network, and Victor selects and reduces hotograhy to send at least something to our headquarters. Photos from the center of Russia have a secial value, after all! With the hel of the administration we also have an arrangement with a ower lant’s system administrator, to uload something to Moscow with his channel. We uload a small archive to his flash card. Now we have to use any oortunity to transfer files. The further we go, the more difficult it will be to connect the Internet.

At the end of the day we still find some ability to take a walk around the village with our hotograhic equiment and even get to the “sea”, as Kureisko reservoir is called here. It’s warm outside, and the local eole use the chance to swim. There are more accustomed to the 50-degree frosts than to +25 … +30 ° C heats. About one meter on the surface the water is still warm somehow, but at the bottom there is ice! It does not sto them, but we do not risk going into the water, esecially as the “sea” bank somehow does not feels right to relax. We go back to the hostel, deserately fighting off swarms of gadflies. For some reason, there are no mosquitoes here, but gadflies are so many that words cannot describe – swarms.

Tomorrow we will go to the ower lant to ay for the fuel – it is, like everything else, is owned by ower lant, a division of the Taimyr Energy Comany, subsidiary of Norilsk Nickel. After the ayment of kerosene we fly to Norilsk. Luckily it’s very close here – this is twice closer than the way that we have done today. Norilsk – this is our last island of urban comfort, which would be followed by the real severe male life. But meanwhile – to slee!

P.S. The result of the day – 654 kilometers in 3:50 flight hours