Published on 09.04.2007 - The Arctic Arc

MI8 helicopter over the tent

MI8 helicopter over the tent

© International Polar Foundation

On Sunday evening, 8th April, the Arctic Arc expedition received fresh supplies in a successful operation carried out with impeccable timing by Victor Boyarski's logistics team.

To begin with, there was the fact that the supply helicopter arrived in the area in the evening, rather than during the day. This enabled the two Belgians to go through their daily routine in the normal fashion without having to worry too much about when the new supplies would arrive. With this type of adventure, every kilometre counts, and the 18.7 km that they covered on Sunday took them to 266 km from the Pole. And as they have been travelling over well-established, solid ice for the past few days, they didn't have to worry about finding a good spot for the helicopter to land.

Also, the weather was in their favour, with a fine day on Sunday. In fact, there has been an anticyclone stationed above the expedition route for the past few days. "The weather has seen the air nice and stable in recent days," explained Alain. "I think it is likely to continue that way, too. I've got my fingers crossed anyway. And the sun was shining for the arrival of the MI8."

So finally, when the helicopter came into view, everything went very well. A pale evening sun was making the ice iridescent and the nine people on board (the two men's wives, Boyarski, one of Alain's daughters and the five pilots for the MI8) all disembarked on to the ice. All of the equipment was deposited next to the camp.  While the two men unpacked everything and ticked the items off against the checklist, Hubert's wife downloaded the 700 photos taken thus far by the expedition that had not been sent back to base by satellite on account of battery problems. On problem : Boyarsky has forgotten at Barneo the expedition's fuel; he thus has to fly back to the expedition and bring the right fuel. In the meantime Hubert and Danservoer received some helicopter's fuel.

"We also took the time to drink a bottle of wine together," Alain went on. "It was the first time for me that I have received fresh supplies in this way in mid-expedition and I found the whole operation rather surreal. We spent two-and-a-half hours together and it was a great moment I must say. I had the impression that it wasn't them coming to us, but rather it was us who had suddenly been transported to another world..."

We can now say with certainty that since the batteries have been recharged and the solar panels replaced, we will be able to publish photos from the Arctic pack-ice more often â€" and perhaps even some videos.

For anyone wondering why an MI 8 helicopter needs five pilots to be able to operate, here is what each of them does: there are two pilots at the controls, just as there are in any aircraft. Then there's the cartographer who handles navigation. After that, there is the radio operator, of course. Finally, there are also one cargo handler, who unload the equipment and who, immediately after landing, go out and check that the ice is strong enough to stay at the selected location.

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