Latest scenario (Sunday 11 am)
arrangements for picking-up the two men have changed yet again since
our withdrawal map).
More changes (Saturday 4 p.m.):
latest news is that it will not be helicopters that will be flying
to the expedition's camp, but the Antonov 2. The pilots were worried
that the range of the MI 8 (1200 km) would not be sufficient. Even
with the fuel dump, it seems.
The ultimate in frustration ... (Saturday 3 p.m.)
we are awaiting confirmation of the pick-up for tomorrow, Sunday at
the end of the day (their time, midday in Brussels), you have to admit
that the two Belgians have seen just about everything during their
Friday 26 April (day 61) : It'll be on Sunday
For the latest news coming from Katanga via Paris, it seems that we are moving towards a flight with only one helicopter (MID 8) from Khatanga, as the other two available civil helicopters are still at the Barneo base, blocked by bad weather.
The flight will be leaving Khatanga on Sunday morning, and will need ten to twelve hours of flying time to accomplish the operation. And this, according to the diagram indicated on our map of the return, with a deposit of fuel made an hour or two from Tchelyouschkine.
So the decision came about during the night: the recovery operation will be by helicopter leaving from Khatanga via Tchelyouskine. For a better view of the routes and distances, we have plotted the details of the flights and places on our new map (see the map of the withdrawal).
So why was the Antonov 2 option (the easiest to organise) finally rejected? Because that machine is too sensitive to de-icing of its windows. And between Cape Arktichewski, from where the Antonov 2 would have left (Stredny Island, more precisely) and the position of the expedition's last camp, it would have had to have flown over too much interstitial water - consequently, running the risk of reaching the area with the machine's windows completely iced up. Too dangerous. Therefore the helicopter (MI 8) option was adopted.
Recovery could have taken place as of this weekend but, this morning, some hellishly bad weather was announced at the Barneo base from where one of the two helicopters taking part in the pick-up has to come. So weather itself will decide the day and time when the helicopters will take off.
decision about the team's recovery arrangements will be made this
evening. The people in charge of Cerpolex (logistics) are discussing
the final details of the operation with the Russian pilots in Katanga.
here is Jacques Theodor's fascinating paper on the age-old controversy
that for nearly a century has been setting the clan of Frederick
A. Cook and against that of Robert E Peary.
Much discussion and questions, one suspects, about the way in which the team will be picked up on the ice.
According to the latest information received, it seems that operating from Stredny-Arktichewski is too risky - too many leads (stretches of open water) both for parachuting fuel and for landing the Antonov 2.
So another solution has to be found. Which is why the people in charge of Cepolex are currently talking to the Russian pilots in Katanga about a possible flight, by helicopter this time, between Tiksi and the place where the expedition is to be found, according to the latest news, and why no decision has yet been taken. And all the more so as Alain and Dixie have just today found a gigantic sheet of ice, sufficiently long and thick to enable an Antonov 2 to land; it is a new piece of information that must from now on be taken into account for any future decision.
Alain and Dixie are naturally extremely disappointed by the turn
of events since last Thursday but they know that they made every
effort possible to bring their adventure to a successful conclusion.
And they are still doing so; trying in this instance to cover as
many kilometres as possible since this was the mission that HQ had
given so that they could get as close to Cape Arktichewski as possible.
The proof: 14 kilometres covered today in the midst of still new
Wednesday, We'll publish the promised case file on the hundred-year-old
display the previous follow up pages, click on the related week