A pair of Robinson R66 Turbine helicopters have completed a six-week flight around the world, starting and finishing in Moscow, Russia.
The flight was organised by Robinson’s Russian dealer, Aviamarket, and a flying club whose members own the R66s. Aviamarket was eager to test the R66 as it had just received certification in Russia. Michael Farikh, the expedition’s leader, and Alexander Kurylev flew S/N 0323, a blue R66, while Vadim Melnikov and Dmitry Rakitsky, Aviamarket’s chief pilot, flew S/N 0164, a maroon R66.
Their journey began on 2 August when the four pilots, along with documentary filmmaker Dmitry Kubasov, departed Bunkovo Heliport. Maintaining a westerly direction, the two helicopters zigzagged across Europe from Norway down to the tip of Africa circling back up to Scotland.
From Scotland, they ventured across the vast North Atlantic Ocean, via the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland. Greenland to Newfoundland, Canada marked the longest day of the expedition, 12.5 hours in the air. The helicopters travelled across Canada, flying just north of the U.S border to Vancouver, before setting course for Alaska.
After passing through Alaska, they crossed the North Pacific Ocean to Siberia, and finally back to Moscow. All in all, the teams crossed four continents and two oceans, travelled 39,448 kilometres (24,512 miles), and logged 220 flight hours.
Both R66s had auxiliary fuel tanks to extend their range. The pilots flew almost 1000 kilometres (620 miles) per day at different altitudes, depending on weather and terrain. Crossing the Atlantic was perhaps the most challenging leg of the trip with long stretches over water, the longest being 787 kilometres (490 miles).