July 29, 1998
Today, I saw a whopping 1,500 feet on the altimeter. Thought we may get nose bleeds. But it didn’t last long. We swung down and flew alongside of the train that was heading west. Waved at all the passengers. Then we passed over a grass aerodrome at the same time a Yak 52 was taking off. They radioed us and said they had heard we were coming. After take-off they flew alongside of us for a while. Two An-2’s, a Yak52, and a Maule, through Siberia. What a sight! Aeroflot pilots radio every now, looking for us and wish us luck and a safe flight. Fabulous! No one in Russia can believe this flight has happened. But you know, we knew it would, by hook or crook. The Flight Safety Foundation of Russia made it happen for us. We even have the President, Vice President, and Chairperson of the organization on board an AN-2 with us. Valery used to be over all Air Space and Controllers in Russia. He has a bit of clout and we see it every day. They are trying so hard to make everything work for us. So far, everything is great.
5 hours after take off, we are at Omsk. Same ceremonial greeting here. Khalide and I were still in the plane, when we had to do a TV interview. After the camera left, I pointed out to Khalide that her flight suit was unzipped to the waist. She was shocked, but laughed. (I never could convince her that I didn’t notice it till it was all over with.) She tells me all the time, “You a bad girl, I go home to Moscow in the morning. You get Anatoly to fly with you.” But she hangs around. She is so great. After dinner, we had a meeting with the Mayor and then we went to the POLYOT Production Company. They made the TU-2’s in the 40’s and in the 60’s, the Yak-9, IL-28, TU-104, now the AN-74 and the AN-3. A turbine powered AN-2. Interesting.. We took pictures of the AN-3 but couldn’t of the rest. The commercial manager called Nikki “a little doll” (there she goes again.) He looks like Rosanne’s husband, Dan, when his hair was permed.. Very nice guy. TOMSK tomorrow.