Russian Mi-26 helicopter crew transporting cargo saves polar bear cub in Arctic

Nov. 7, 2014
MOSCOW, 7 Nov. 2014. The crew of a Russian Mi-26 military helicopter from the Eastern Military District Army Aviation airbase saved a baby polar bear from starving to death in the Arctic, after the young bear became separated from its mother.

MOSCOW, 7 Nov. 2014. The crew of a Russian Mi-26 military helicopter from the Eastern Military District Army Aviation airbase saved a baby polar bear from starving to death in the Arctic, after the young bear became separated from its mother.

Mi-26 helicopters, which are used to transport cargo in the Arctic zone, are the largest heaviest-lifting series produced helicopters in the world, and can transport up to 20 tonnes of equipment and large cargo on an external sling or internally. Mi-26 helicopters are also used in transporting troops, fuel, medical evacuation, and for firefighting. The helicopter is produced at Rostvertol, a Russian Helicopters company.

Flight tests are currently being carried out on the modernized Mi-26T2 helicopter, which boasts reduced crew numbers, a ‘glass cockpit’ which improves its ergonomics, and the latest avionics. Mi-26T2 can be operated any time of day or night.

The Mi-26 was carrying out a routine transport flight in the Arctic zone, delivering goods from Anadyr to Wrangel Island, when one of the crew spotted a lone polar bear cub wandering along the Chukotka shore. The crew carried out several sweeps of the area, but there was no trace of the cub’s mother. The decision was therefore taken to pick up the polar bear cub.

The crew landed the Mi-26 and fanned out in search of the polar bear cub. When they found it, it was exhausted and showed no sign of aggression; in fact, it moved toward them. After giving it some warm food, the helicopter crew took it on board.

The crew said the cub was calm during the flight, wandered around inside the helicopter, looked around, and made friends with the people who rescued it. They named it Umka, after a well-known Russian cartoon about a young polar bear Umka who was particularly curious about its surroundings.

After landing, the crew contacted environmental protection authorities and handed the cub over to them. The Mi-26 crew helped support the population of this endangered species, registered in Russia’s Red Book of species under threat. The young polar bear is now in a wildlife reserve on Wrangel Island.

Rostvertol, a Russian Helicopters company, produces a wide range of Mi- helicopters and carries out repair and modernisation work on helicopters, supplies aviation engineering materials and provides related services. Currently Rostvertol is involved in the series production of new generation military helicopter Mi-28N Night Hunter (Mi-28NE export variant); the Mi-35M combat support helicopter; and the world’s heaviest multirole transport helicopter – the Mi-26T.

Russian Helicopters, (part of State Corporation Rostec), is one of the global leaders in helicopter production and the only helicopter design and production powerhouse in Russia. Russian Helicopters was founded in 2007 and is headquartered in Moscow. The company comprises five helicopter production facilities, two design bureaus, a spare parts production and repair facility, as well as an aftersale service branch responsible for maintenance and repair in Russia and all over the world. Its helicopters are popular among Russian ministries and state authorities (Ministry of Defence, Ministry of Internal Affairs, Emergency Control Ministry), operators (Gazpromavia, UTair), major Russian corporations. In 2013 its IFRS revenues increased 10% to RUB 138.3 billion. Deliveries reached 275 helicopters.

State Corporation Rostec is a Russian corporation founded in 2007 for the purpose of promoting the development, production and export of hi-tech civilian and military industry products. It comprises 700 organisations, nine of which have now been formed as holding companies of the military-industrial complex and five of them are involved in civil industries. Rostec’s organisations are located in 60 constituent entities of the Russian Federation and supply their products to the markets of more than 70 countries. The revenue of Rostec in 2013 amounted to RUB 1, 04 trillion, with net profit of RUB 40 billion. The tax deductions into the treasuries at all levels exceeded RUB 138 billion

About the Author

Courtney E. Howard | Chief Editor, Intelligent Aerospace

Courtney enjoys writing about all things high-tech in PennWell’s burgeoning Aerospace and Defense Group, which encompasses Intelligent Aerospace and Military & Aerospace Electronics. She’s also a self-proclaimed social-media maven, mil-aero nerd, and avid avionics and space geek. Connect with Courtney at [email protected], @coho on Twitter, on LinkedIn, and on Google+.

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