Flight TV - Issue 11

Third day of 52nd Russian Open Helicopter Sports Championship.
Navigation task.
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Hello! I’m Ignat Solovey and this is Flight TV, the only Russian TV program on general aviation. I’m the cameraman and your host here. Our 11th English issue is about the third day of 52nd Russian Open Helicopter Sports Championship. This production is supported International Academy of Helicopter Sports.

Day three of 52nd Russian Helisports Open was dedicated to only one task of Navigation, the most complex of four. In Navigation one can lose more points than in any other task. History knows the cases when crews scored zero out of three hundred points: penalties and fines devoured it all. In Navigation, the crew’s task is to fly unknown route. The map is handed five minutes before takeoff. Route passage is timed: you have to take off with one-second precision, enter the search zone on time, leave it on time and get back to the airfield strictly on time. If you didn’t make it, you’re penalized. For example, if a route is timed for 30 minutes 35 seconds, you have to make it no later and even no earlier, because early finish is penalized too. Three hundred points are almost unreachable here, like a Nobel prize for a young scientist, but the crew of Andrey Orekhov and Vadim Sazonov managed to do it… Although they often train at the championship venue in Konakovo.

Anatoly ULANOV

Chief Judge, 52nd Russian Helisports Open

It’s always like that, not only in helicopter sports: a crew or team that plays at home field has some advantage. You can’t get around that because anyway competitions are held where people train, and of course those who train at that airfields do participate in competitions.

Locale awareness isn’t a key to success, though. During the task a crew has to find ten checkpoints, recognize them correctly and mark in a report. After passage of the last turning point they have to get to the airfield precisely on time, drop off the signal bag, drop off a bowling pin into 40×40 centimeter opening and do a racetrack landing pattern. It’s also important that crews didn’t use any navigation aids except the map they are issued, and couldn’t communicate between each other, especially with those who are waiting for their turn.

Anatoly ULANOV

Chief Judge, 52nd Russian Helisports Open

Crews are “under arrest” until the last of them takes off. Everyone have to wait. We call it “jail”, or “prison”: the crews that are to fly are separated from everyone else, they wait till the end. They can’t use phones as well: phones are placed into sealed envelopes, put on board and can be used only in case of emergency landing.

Initially the Navigation was scheduled for the championship’s second day, together with Precision Flight. Day three had to be dedicated to slalom and fender. Yet, people may plan and weather has it’s own agenda: rainshower spoiled the show. A day before organizers decided to hold three shorter competitions in one day, leaving the full third day for the navigation… and they came up trumps with that.


Russian Helicopter Sport Federation, President

Today the weather interposed our Navigation task flights. We stopped the competition twice, some flights had to be repeated… it was a mess both for crews and judges… Judges spent the whole day in forests and fields, some of them almost froze and all of them soaked by rains. I don’t remember such intense navigation in the recent five…  even six or seven years.

Navigation task requires thirty minutes of flight for each crew with 10 minute intervals between starts. Since there were 31 crews participating, that would be at least six hours even in ideal conditions. In reality, the competition started at eleven in the morning and ended just before sunset at half past eight in the evening.


Russian Helicopter Sport Federation, President

It worth to mention that two Austrian crews and one Ukrainian just forfeited the Navigation. They understood that qualification is more important for Russian crews than for them… and for such gesture we’re grateful, because otherwise we wouldn’t make it during daylight time at all.

The crews who finished among the first were lucky: they had all day to themselves and could even leave the airfield to take some rest… Those who flew later weren’t as fortunate: they had to wait all day long, deprived of communications with anyone outside. Field judges had a trial of endurance as well.

In total, 52nd Russian Helicopter Sports Open Championship was won by the crew of Maxim Sotnikov and Oleg Puojükas. Andrey Orekhov and Vadim Sazonov took the second place. Yuri Yablokov and Konstantin Podoinitsyn got bronze medals. In general, the first ten rows were taken by Russian crews, and among foreigners the best were Lyubov’ Prikhodko and Vladislav Stavisyuk from Ukraine. Team competition looks similar: first five teams are Russian. Belarusian team took sixth place, and they did it with Russian help: one of Belarusian Mi-2s failed, so Russian team gave one of their helicopter to Belarusians.


Russian Helisports Team Chief Trainer

There was an excellent helisport school in the USSR, and that basis remained even after the Soviet Union fell. We, Russian team, are the world champions since 1992. The only exception was in 2002 in Austria when we took second place in team competition, but took almost all the medals… Well, things happen.


Mi-2 pilot, Gagarin DOSAAF Air Club, Saratov, Russia

Our country’s helisport federation and helisport team are so good that they can’t be surpassed in the nearest years. For us it’s really difficult to compete even between each other, because the sports level is exceptionally high.

Russian helicopter sports team is still the best in the world. Russia has all rights to be proud of it and also to set a mark in helisports for everyone else. For example, Linda Christine Lilleng from Norway came to watch this championship, but not just as a spectator. Despite she’s quite young, she has 750 hours as professional commercial pilot of R-44 at Norwegian Helitrans company, and has serious ideas about holding helisport competitions in Norway.

Linda Christine LILLENG

R44 commercial pilot, Norway

I work as a professional helicopter pilot and I also is a part of general aviation organization in Norway. We also want to start organizing helicopter sports in Norway. That’s why I’m here, just to learn how to make a competition and hopefully I’ll manage to make a competition in Norway as well, sometime soon.

In Norway we’re completely new to this sport, so I’m just here as an observer to learn and see how this is all working, so that maybe I can start making some test competition or something like that, and we’re also talking to people here in Russia, they’re really kind an welcoming. They said that maybe we can come here and train with them, and learn more how to be a helicopter competition.

We’ve just finished our coverage of this year’s Russian Helisport Open, but two more issues on World Cup in Helicopter Races will follow. I’m Ignat Solovey, cameraman and host here at Flight TV.  We need your feedback! Please share your ideas and opinions in comments on YouTube, or on Facebook, or on Instagram. You see the links on your screen. Thanks for watching, stay tuned for more… and fly safely!