Around the World in a Pair of Robinson R66s

NBAA Convention News » 2013
The pilots from left to right: Vadim Melnikov, Dmitry Rakitsky, Alexander Kurylev, and Michael Farikh.
The pilots from left to right: Vadim Melnikov, Dmitry Rakitsky, Alexander Kurylev, and Michael Farikh.
October 21, 2013, 5:00 AM

When most operators put a new turbine-powered Robinson R66 into service they spend some time flying it around the local area just to check things out. But when Moscow-based Aviamarket got its first pair of turbine-powered R66s, the company went a bit further. A six-week around-the-world-type further, to be exact.

As the Robinson dealer in Moscow and operator of a growing helicopter flying club, Avamarket’s team was eager to show off the capabilities of their first pair of R66s, which had received Russian certification in March.

Flying serial number 0323, a blue R66, expedition leader Michael Farikh and Alexander Kurylev were accompanied by Aviamarket’s chief pilot Dmitry Rakitsky and co-pilot Vadim Melnikov in serial number 0164, a maroon R66.

The four pilots and two R66s along with documentary filmmaker Dmitry Kubasov took off from Moscow’s Bunkovo Heliport on August 2. Heading west, the two crews cut a zigzag pattern across Europe from Norway to the tip of Africa then back through Scotland. The next legs took them across the North Atlantic via the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland.

After departing Greenland, the pair of R66s flew 12.5 hours over water to Newfoundland. That was their longest single-day total of the adventure. After traveling along southern Canada, the group crossed through Alaska and finally across the far northern Pacific to Siberia. They arrived back home in Moscow on September 15.

The two R66s were equipped with auxiliary long-range fuel tanks, which allowed them to cover an average of 820 miles (1,000 kilometers) per day, weather permitting. In total, the teams crossed four continents and two oceans while covering 24,512 miles (39,448 kilometers). They logged 220 flight hours.

According to chief pilot Rakitsky, the Robinson R66s performed exceptionally well from start to finish and required only routine maintenance.

The globe-hopping journey was not the first time Farikh and Rakitsky had relied on serial number 0323’s reliability to complete a record-setting trip. This past April, the intrepid pair few the same R66 to the North Pole. During the 12-day journey, they logged 75 hours, flying in arctic conditions.

Robinson Helicopter is displaying its products here at the NBAA show indoor static area.

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