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Old 06-29-2017, 05:34 PM
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad Vlad is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Utah
Posts: 8,440
Default VFR to Russia (In Memory of Bob Axsom)

The idea of flying my RV to Russia floated in my head for years. In 2016 I did an extended run polishing Alaska perimeter testing myself if I could swing the challenge of crossing Bering Strait. For couple years I was digging world travelers' blogs and read anything I could find on the subject of flying VFR to Russia. There was a group of Alaskans who did a run to the closest Russian airport and back but their accounts didn't tell much of a positive. They encountered border hurdles, absence of avgas, lack of services and language barrier. So there wasn't much info online. I planned to visit the first large settlement Anadyr on Chukotka Peninsula and for the life of me I couldn't find anything useful.

I contacted AOPA Russia tourism department and they agreed to be my agent. I studied FAVT website (Russian FAA) and made an attempt to contact them directly. A response from the government came three months later citing some rules I couldn't even read. AOPA Russia was a gem. These guys are the best they quickly requested all my pilot information in proper format and advised on insurance. Insurance had a questionnaire so extensive I even forgot some things. One provision they asked was a permit to fly but the permit couldn't be issued without insurance. AOPA Russia broke that circle and I was able to buy a policy for 10 days.

Passport came with a Russian visa and I thought all is set. I even had a "maybe" second ship going with me to Alaska and wait there in case I need a recovery. Another RVator agreed to be an autopilot to Seattle life was good.

I am still waiting for FAVT Permit, four weeks before the trip and the motor throws a joke on me. A hole in the piston cylinder #2. A piece of compression ring broke, wore in and ejected itself via exhaust valve. So new proper piston goes in with rings etc. the jug receives a hone and I am up again breaking it in...

Extra vacation time approved from work and I am running away just hours before we are blanketed with flight restrictions. Next stop - Lachute, Canada where my good friend Julian has a hangar home. He will help me to fine tune everything, fill me up on Russian news, we will brush up on the language and I'll pad some fat.

I have a habit of leaving for an extended trip via Hudson River Corridor. It gives a good morale boost. If you know where to look and wave long enough the whole 100 floor at Freedom Tower will wave at you...

The corridor is getting saturated with cool hardware the POTUS is coming.

Three hours later I was in Canada. Julian met me and we went for a ride to Tim Hortons.

Where is N666BK?

Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.

Last edited by Vlad : 06-30-2017 at 03:43 PM.
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Old 06-29-2017, 05:36 PM
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad Vlad is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Utah
Posts: 8,440

I love Canada. We spent the weekend working on my airplane. Basically it was another condition inspection. Julian balanced my prop both static and dynamic. Runs smooth like silk.

I noticed a "breathing" screw on fuel tank sender and sure Julian has a proper sealer to fix it. He lend me his Delorme inreach tracker I am all set in non-APRS world.

I decided to reach Alaska via northern Canada. First stop Pembroke a refuel and weather check.

Next was Edenvale for a brunch. I met a Piper Cub pilot who tried to pay for my food. I thanked and the restaurant gladly took my Yankee roubles 1:1.
Canadian North is very remote a good exercise both mental and physical.

Geraldton CYGQ was next. Wash rinse repeat. Gas, washroom, couple calls and flying again...

Where is N666BK?

Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.

Last edited by Vlad : 06-29-2017 at 06:14 PM.
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Old 06-29-2017, 05:37 PM
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad Vlad is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Utah
Posts: 8,440
Talking Crown Royal and Kamsack SK

There is a good whiskey smell near Gimli. Crown Royal brewery and distribution center.

Welcome to Gimli! One of the bumpiest taxiways in the world.

Hey guys you BIG!! The tanker just dumped a ton of water on the taxiway.

Full tanks and another leg to Kamsack, Saskatchewan. There is a motel within walking distance from the airfield. If you never been to Kamsack airport you didn't lose much. Remember the bad taxiway in Gimli? Kamsack runway is three times worse. Would be tough even for a tailwheel guy...

Weather was calm there was nobody on the field. No tiedowns as well. I secured all control surfaces, chocked the wheels and walked to Duck Mountain Motel. Slept well.
Where is N666BK?

Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.

Last edited by Vlad : 06-29-2017 at 06:29 PM.
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Old 06-29-2017, 05:38 PM
Vlad's Avatar
Vlad Vlad is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Utah
Posts: 8,440
Default Cold Lake AB and Mackenzie BC

All details and finalized route came to my email box this morning. Hoorah! Permission to enter Russian airspace granted but via oceanic route where all traffic goes. Let me get closer then I will think about requesting over land route...

First leg of the day to Cold Lake AB. Under Canadian AirForce base controlled airspace lies a regional airport with cheaper gas.

Military controllers approved the transition to CEN5 Cold Lake Regional airport and advised to review VFR departure from there. They were planning a heavy recovery in 15 minutes. I asked locals about the procedure they explained.

The recovery started and boy I don't even have that many wasps in my mailbox! A number of fighter jets came out of nowhere. Thunder continued till my departure then a chopper came from the base and was loitering above for another 15 minutes. War games are on!! Let me get outta here...

Mackenzie BC next.

There is a free ice cream in Mackenzie all summer long. Vicki a Ukrainian lady runs the show there. She will feed you too.

After Mackenzie CYZY I intercepted an abandoned rail road which starts at Stuart Lake and runs north along a chain of other lakes and several rivers. Beautiful views.

I was looking for a spot to land but after I saw a bear walking on a trestle I decided to press on.

You don't see a bear but he is there...

I definitely need a place to land soon. The nature is calling...
Where is N666BK?

Не имей сто рублей, а имей сто друзей.

Last edited by Vlad : 06-29-2017 at 07:39 PM.
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Old 06-29-2017, 05:51 PM
eddieseve eddieseve is offline
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Sydney, Australia
Posts: 617

Once you get to Russia you may as well continue the journey to Australia

Eddie Seve
Sydney Australia
First Flight 16th July 2012
RV-7 Phase 2, 30 Oct 2012
1100 hrs Feb 2020
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Old 06-29-2017, 06:43 PM
Lemmingman's Avatar
Lemmingman Lemmingman is offline
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: McKinney, TX
Posts: 689

Vlad, when you get a chance, can you explain the tie in with Bob?
Gil Brice
McKinney, TX EAA-1246
RV7 - Working on fuse, fuel, brakes etc...
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Old 06-30-2017, 05:13 AM
ronschreck's Avatar
ronschreck ronschreck is offline
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Gilbert, AZ
Posts: 1,701
Default Mind if I fly along?

I'll be living vicariously through you for a bit. I've always wanted to make a trip like this but life seems to always get in the way. Safe travels my friend. I'll be watching you.
Ron Schreck
IAC National Judge
RV-8, "Miss Izzy", 2250 Hours- Sold
My Aerobatic Video
My Formation Video
CAF B-25 - Airbase Arizona
VAF 2022 Donor
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Old 06-30-2017, 05:41 AM
Dave12 Dave12 is offline
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Elkton, Md.
Posts: 1,745

Finally, I was wondering when you were going to spill the beans?
Wag Aero Sport Trainer built,sold and wrecked
N588DF RV12 #336 built, sold and alive and well in New York
N73DF RV12 #244 built, sold and alive and well in Florida
N91 RV RV9 I wish I could say I built this one! Mark Santoleri hit the ball out of the park on this gem.
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Old 06-30-2017, 08:59 AM
sjhurlbut sjhurlbut is offline
Join Date: Jan 2005
Posts: 894
Default Argh

Darn it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Missed you in Cold Lake.

Visit and subscribe to Stu's Aircraft Factory on

Snowbird #?
Moose Jaw, SK
7A #70015 - C-FZQX - built - sold
7A #71629 - C-FSIS - built - sold across Atlantic
7 #70215 - C-GOJU - flying - sold
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6 #60119 - C-FHBZ - built - Airventure 2016 Bronze Lindy - sold
8 #82842 - C-FSBG - built - sold
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Old 06-30-2017, 09:55 AM
climberrn's Avatar
climberrn climberrn is offline
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Carson City, NV
Posts: 639

Figured you were up to something with the talk about extended range tanks. Congrats. Looking forward to hearing more about your adventure.

RV-7A at CXP
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