The Russian Air Force Mi-26 stands out against this snow covered landscape (Image © Russian Helicopters)

Russian Star Helicopter on special Polar Mission

A crew member with the young polar bear, image released on 7 November 2014 (Image © Russian Helicopters)
A crew member with the young polar bear, image released on 7 November 2014 (Image © Russian Helicopters)

“You think I’m impressed? All of you with your guns, your killing, your death. For what? So you can be a hero?” Ah, yes this time indeed. Being part of military aviation is not all about shooting your way into other people’s territory – or defending your own. This was nicely illustrated earlier this month by the crew of this Russian star big enough to match the Bond Movie Goldeneye from which we borrowed the quote: the Mil Mi-26 (Ми-26).

One of those big big choppers – called “Halo” by NATO pilots – in service with the Russian Eastern Military District – saved a cute little polar bear from starving in the Arctic. Ah yes, we know we are now part of the propaganda machine but we also do like those fluffy white four feet rulers of the North Pole – even more so when they’ve grown up. So when we hear of a Red Starred Mi-26 on a routine cargo flight from Anadyr to remote Wrangel Island making a landing at the Chukotka shore to pick up an orphan polar bear because his mum has left him, was died or killed, we publish it.

“When after landing the crew found the cub, 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”, reads the official statement of Russian Helicopters that is the marketing and sales company of the famous Mil bureau that designed the Mi-26 in the 1970s. “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 Russian 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 (О́стров Вра́нгеля).

Mi-26 manufacturer Rostvertol is currently carrying out flighttests on a modernised Mi-26T2 helicopter, that will include a so-called glass cockpit with better ergonomics and the latest avionics – to fligh during day or night.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Marcel Burger

The Russian Air Force Mi-26 stands out against this snow covered landscape (Image © Russian Helicopters)
The Russian Air Force (BBC-России) Mi-26 stands out against this snow covered landscape (Image © Russian Helicopters)