In August this year, an international expedition organized by the Russian Geographical Society conducted a unique salvage operation in one of the Earth's remotest regions. The 70-year old American Douglas C-47 aircraft made an emergency landing in Siberia back in 1947, and the remains are just now being recovered, with some shocking discoveries.
Back in 1943, when the US and the Soviet Union were allied in defeating Nazi Germany, the US started a Lend-Lease act that guaranteed that a continuous stream of American war material made its way to the Soviets. According to CNN, this is the case of this C-47 in particular, transported along a thousand miles of the Alaska-Siberia road that cuts through the Arctic. Without having been used during the war, the aircraft was used by civilians, flying from Krasnoyarsk to remote outposts in Northern Siberia.
Story Behind the Crash
"I'm Tyurikov's board," says a penned message on the plane's interior, according to The Siberian Times, "there are three women and six 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."
Captain Maxim Tyurikov saved all 32 lives on board after engine failure due to bad weather. Most of the survivors were rescued 20 days after the crash, amid dwindling food supplies. The good captain, however, and a group of eight crew and passengers who attempted to venture out and seek help all died in the tundra's harsh conditions.
An Emotional Reunion
Having been moved from the remote Arctic to Kransnoyarsk city by the barge Kislovodsk on the Yenisei River, it has now been moved to a special facility of the Expeditionary Centre of Krasnoyarsk Branch of the Russian Geographical Society. Restoration works are expected to take place soon, however, before disassembly, 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.
"If I can touch this plane, then my life is not lived in vain," said Avelina, who had last seen her father when she was only six years old, "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."
Captain Tyurikov's body was only found in 1953, by a reindeer herder. Avelina's notebook had been with his remains then, and that was how the captain's body was identified.