On August 5, the crew consisting of Fedor Konyukhov and Igor Potapkin began an unprecedented flight to the North Pole on a powered parachute. If everything works out, it will become a new world record.
The paraplane, as the powered parachute is also called, took off from the surface of an improvised runway on an ice floe north of Rudolf Island (Franz Josef Land Archipelago) with a length of only 100 meters at 15:40 Moscow time. The ultralight aircraft made two circles around the icebreaker "50 Let Pobedy", which delivered the travelers to the launch area, and headed north. During this time, the expedition headquarters on board the icebreaker under the leadership of Oskar Konyukhov was able to visually verify that the motorized paraplane was working correctly, once again check the means of communication and navigation.
The distance from the proposed starting point to the North Pole is approximately 900 km. The flight takes place at a previously agreed altitude of up to 300 m. The speed reaches 51 km/h.
On June 17, the Konyukhov – Potapkin crew set a world record for a non-stop flight on a motorized parachute on the route Usman (Ryazan Oblast) – Gudermes (Chechen Republic). The travelers covered the distance of 1040 km in 13 hours and 17 minutes.
Now the route lies in the Arctic. Never before had such an ultralight aircraft been flown to the North Pole.
“For me, this will be the eighth trip to the North Pole: three times on skis, once on a dog sled, three times on an icebreaker, and this time we will try with my friend, a pilot, master of sports of international class Igor Potapkin, to fly to the pole on a paraplane. Godspeed!” said the member of the Russian Geographical Society Fedor Konyukhov on the eve of the expedition.
After landing at the final location of the route, the pilots will set up a camp and wait until they are taken on board by the icebreaker "50 Let Pobedy", which will be sailing alongside them. Konyukhov has already stated that under favorable weather conditions, he does not exclude the possibility of flying back.
A paraplane is a fuselage with a motor with a propeller and a parachute that acts as a large wing. Its design has hardly changed since the previous record flight. The team decided to use the same 100-liter fuel tanks as before. An additional soft fuel tank with a volume of 45 liters made of rubberized tarpaulin was also taken on board. Instead of wheels, the aircraft is equipped with skis this time.
Given that the current distance is less than the previous one, the crew hopes to perform a non-stop flight. However, since the weather in high latitudes is changeable, option B has been prepared. If a strong headwind blows for a long time, the fuel may run out ahead of time. In this case, the travelers will land in a suitable place on an ice floe and wait for the icebreaker to "share" the fuel. Or, if the weather completely deteriorates or an emergency situation occurs, it will take the travelers on board. However, Fedor Konyukhov, who will turn 71 in December, is optimistic. He has already planned the next expedition in September – to the Gobi Desert.
The flight can be monitored in real time on the interactive satellite map Iridium 360.
Technical characteristics of the motorized parachute:
the weight of the structure: fuselage, motor and wing – 150 kg;
fuel reserve (AI-95 gasoline) – 150 liters;
the wing area – 42 sq. m
The developer and manufacturer of the ultralight motorized parachute is the Russian company “ParAAvis”.