AUGUST 4, 1998
Heading to Ayan today with a fuel stop in Ust-Maya. Fuel stops are very strategic on this flight. It’s not like getting 100LL fuel everywhere in the U.S. It’s hard to find in Siberia.
Almost 2 hours later, we are on the ground in Ust-Maya fueling up and checking the weather. It’s a No-Go, so we will spend the night here and there is N-O-T-H-I-N-G here. It is a small fishing village and there are only 3 rooms to stay in. The four women will stay in one and the men in the other two. Three beds made of chicken wire and Nikki’s is an army cot that folds up on you, like a taco. The other rooms just have pallets on the floors. Seven in one and six in the other. The bathroom has two stalls and one sink. There are seventeen people coming in and out of the bathroom at the same time. Modesty left this project a long time ago.
But, Valery and Rafael are always finding ways to entertain. They hired 4 little boats to take us down the Aldan River. We went down the river where the rest of the crew was. They were fishing with a big fire roaring and having a great time.
You cannot fly through Siberia and go home without skinny dipping in the Aldan River. Just the girls, though. There is nothing graceful about entering a cold river in Siberia. There is also something empowering about being in there. Katie, bar the door when we return.
AUGUST 5, 1998
We didn’t need an alarm this morning. I can ignore flies buzzing around my head for about 5 hours and then when they start crawling on my face, I’m done. The only thing to do is get up.
Yesterday the weather in Ayan and P. Ossipenko was on the crap side. Low ceilings and smoke from forest fires. We were starting to think that the end of the commemorative route wouldn’t happen. To come all this way, with the end in sight and knowing that we were in Mother Nature’s hands.
Natassia was obviously upset and Nikki tried her best to make her feel better. Nikki and Natassia have flown all this way in the AN-2 with a photo of the 3 “Flight of the Rodina” pilots taped up in the cockpit behind them. Our backup plan was to take the Maule and try to get to P. Ossipenko in the weather and drop flowers over the site. Sad backup plan.
While I was getting things together, Khalide ran in shouting “Weather is good.. All can go”
I’ve never seen 4 females pack as fast as we did. We all piled in the bathroom at the same time, getting ready. I brushed my hair, Nikki brushed her teeth, Eugenia shaved his face, Mikey was in a stall and Constantine was running back and forth. What a crew.
Khalide and I led everyone in the takeoff.