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Wreck of US warplane comes in from the cold after 69 years in Siberian Arctic

By The Siberian Times reporter
09 September 2016

Final message of hero pilot found scrawled in Douglas C-47 aircraft he crash landed with no loss of life in 1947.

The aircraft, provided under the wartime Lend-Lease Agreement, remained in the USSR after the end of the war, and was on duty in the polar region when it crashed. Picture: Krasnoyarsk branch of RGO

The American plane provided to the Soviet authorities during the Second World War has been successfully moved from its Arctic 'grave' in the hope that it may one day fly again. 

Captain Maxim Tyurikov saved all 32 lives on board when he brought the plane down for an emergency landing  in appalling weather after both engines failed - but he the perished as he walked through snow storms to find the nearest settlement, and arrange for the passengers and crew to be saved. 

Before the parts of the Douglas C-47 were moved by helicopter, and loaded onto a river barge, the pilot's final message, penned in indelible ink, was found on the aircraft. 

He wrote: 'I'm Tyurikov's board. There are 3 women and 6 children onboard. On 22.04.47 at 00:30 we took off from Kozhevnikovo and headed for Krasnoyarsk. At 5:30 was the emergency landing. No casualties.'

Writings

'I'm Tyurikov's board. There are 3 women and 6 children onboard. On 22.04.47 at 00:30 we took off from Kozhevnikovo and headed for Krasnoyarsk. At 5:30 was the emergency landing. No casualties.' Picture: Krasnoyarsk branch of RGO

He and two crew members, plus six passengers, went out on foot to seek help, but this group all died. Others who remained at the aircraft were rescued, as we have highlighted in these previous stories: 'If I can touch this plane, then my life is not lived in vain' and 'Daughter honours her pilot father'.

Another message, apparently from a passenger nine days after the crash landing revealed the survivors had marked May Day, a key Soviet holiday, during their lonely vigil. 

'Sitting alone. All s (food) running out. No-one loses heart. We all look forward to salvation. We celebrated the holiday well.'  

The aircraft, provided under the wartime Lend-Lease Agreement, remained in the USSR after the end of the war, and was on duty in the polar region when it crashed. 

Douglas


Douglas

In the near future, experts will check the state of the aircraft and begin preparations for restoration works. Picture: Krasnoyarsk branch of RGO

In recent weeks it has been moved from the remote Arctic to Kransnoyarsk city by the barge Kislovodsk on the Yenisei River. It has been moved to a special facility of the Expeditionary Centre of Krasnoyarsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society. In the near future, experts will check the state of the aircraft and begin preparations for restoration works.

Before the plane was dissembled, Captain Turikov's daughter Avelina Antsiferova, 76, came to see the wreck for the first time, and to sit in the cockpit of the stricken plane her father had safely landed. 

She had been aged six when she saw her father for the last time. Before making the journey, she said: 'If I can touch this plane, then my life is not lived in vain.' 

Douglas


Douglas

'He was very experienced pilot, and he managed to land this plane, so that no-one was injured. There was also 850 kg of cargo on board, which also remained safe. Picture: Krasnoyarsk branch of RGO

She told The Siberian Times: 'You can understand my deep feelings, when I saw this silver-coloured airplane from above. It was like a bird lying outspread in tundra.

'All my feelings awakened in me. There was quite a cool, northern wind. This is the far north, after all, and we even saw a reindeer running in the tundra far away. 

'I climbed into the cabin, where my father had been at the helm. I touched all this, I felt everything. All this was so dear to me. I had dreamed for so long of seeing his plane, but I was so lucky to be able to get inside it. It was such an emotional moment. 

Avelina Antsiferova


Avelina holds father's portrait

Avelina Antsiferova with Glen Moss (right) and Igor Spiridenko (first from the left). Avelina Antsiferova holds her father's picture. Pictures: Krasnoyarsk branch of RGO, Enisey TV

'I had been waiting for this moment all my life. Over the years I studied the story of my father, and searched through the documents in archives. I am so very proud of my father. 

'He was very experienced pilot, and he managed to land this plane, so that no-one was injured. There was also 850 kg of cargo on board, which also remained safe. He managed to land in this tundra on one working overheated engine. 

'Yet in four days with no sign of rescuers, he and two other men from the crew (mechanic Viktor Pismarev, 33, and radio operator Alexey Smirnov, 34) went to search for the nearest settlement. 

Cockpit


Cockpit


Inside the plane

'I climbed into the cabin, where my father had been at the helm. I touched all this, I felt everything. All this was so dear to me.' Picture: Krasnoyarsk branch of RGO

'The story is that there were five amnestied prisoners among the passengers. Initially father did not want to take them onboard. And after the landing, they started to get resentful and threatening, demanding a search for help. 

'So three members of the crew, headed by my father and some passengers, went to search for a settlement.' In truth, they did not know their location. 'My father took the map and the compass,' she said.

'He left the flare gun to the second pilot, Sergey Anoshko (aged 24) who stayed with the main part of passengers near the plane.' She said: 'When papa's group went out, a blizzard started and did not stop for about ten days. So they were lost there.'

joint Russian-American expedition sets out to bring home crashed wartime Douglas C-47 from tundra

Douglas C-47 took off from Kostisty island to deliever passengers and cargo to Krasnoyarsk, but due to the engine failure and bad weather it was to land in the middle of tundra, in 180 kilometres from Volochanka village. Picture: Siberian Times

The remains of the rest of the group have still not been found, but Avelina's father's body was discovered six years later. He was identified because his young daughter had inscribed a book he had with him. 

'Only in 1953 were the remains of my father found. A reindeer herder was there with his deer and suddenly found him. There were documents and a notebook with my name - Tyurikova Avelina, I had written it there. So my father was identified.'

In the group that salvaged the plane was American pilot and Douglas expert Glen Moss.

Comments (3)

Wonderful story. I visited Krasnoyarsk in 1991, and flew up to Igarka, possibly not far from this plane crash. It is a similar story to one Anna Belorusova has researched re he Grandfather who trained at Errol on Armstrong Whitworth Bombers to fly back to Russia, gifted by Winston Churchill.
bradley borland, Perth SCOTLAND
18/10/2016 21:44
0
0
This lovely lady (the daughter) had a real true hero of a Dad.

I think he should have a plaque honoured to his name...may he rest in eternal peace.
Jaker, Dundalk
17/09/2016 12:05
4
1
Great story and amazing pictures, thank you ST
Denis, Telford
09/09/2016 21:24
18
0
1

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