Breakfast in the Bar at 7 AM. I had English peas and boiled eggs, tomatoes, and cucumber. Ummmmm, breakfast of champions. Off to Omsk. About a 5 hour flight today. From here, we are about 3,400 NM from Fairbanks. Last night, I made a phone call to check in and had a weak connection. I said “Let me call you back and see if its better.” Don’t ever do that in this part of the world. Thought I would never get back on. Well, we piled up in our planes and off we went. Flying here is a huge flight planning deal. I told Khalide that she would come to Nashville and we would go flying and not talk to anyone. She said “at night, please, at night.” Amazing. There were at least 100 people on one day talking about that days route. She has 10 year old VFR maps. There are no newer ones. She has to be told the restricted or prohibited areas and write them in herself each flight. VFR is on a route with reporting points. So it’s actually IFR on the VFR flight plan in VFR conditions. Today, I saw a whopping 1,500 feet on the altimeter. Thought I would get a nose bleed. But it didn’t last long. We swung down and flew along side of the train that was heading west. Waved at all the passengers. Then we passed over a grass aerodrome at the same time a Yak 52 was taking off. They radioed us and said they had heard we were coming. After take off they flew along side of us for a while. 2-An-2’s, a Yak52, and a Maule, through Siberia. What a sight! Aeroflot pilots radio every now and then looking for us and wish us luck and a safe flight. Fabulous! No one in Russia can believe this flight has happened. But you know, we knew it would, by hook or crook. The Flight Safety Foundation of Russia made it happen for us. We even have the President, Vice President, and Chairperson of the organization on board with us. Valery used to be over all Air Space and Controllers in Russia. He has a bit of clout and we see it every day. They are trying so hard to make everything work for us. So far, everything is great.
5 hours after take off, we are at Omsk. Same greeting here. Khalide and I were still in the plane when we had to do a TV interview. After the camera left, I pointed out to Khalide that here flight suit was unzipped to the waist. She was shocked but laughed. (I never could convince her that I didn’t notice it till it was all over with.) Ha Ha. She tells me all the time, “You a bad girl, I go home to Moscow in the morning. You get Anatoly to fly with you.” But she hangs around. She is so great. After dinner, we had a meeting with the Mayor and then we went to the POLYOT Production Company. They made the TU-2’s in the 40’s and in the 60’s, the Yak-9, IL-28, TU-104, now the AN-74 and the AN-3. A turbine powered AN-2. Interesting.. We took pictures of the AN-3 but couldn’t of the rest. The commercial manager called Nikki “a little doll” (there she goes again.) Now, he looks just like on TV, Rosanne’s husband, Dan, when his hair was permed.. This just about goes along with the other guys too. (Except Costanza). But back to the hotel for rest and baths. TOMSK tomorrow.