On wave of 1998-year success, taking into account experience received and mistakes made, we decided to organize expedition to the North Pole originally, including construction of ice aerodrome. This expedition became preliminary stage in conduction of expedition to the South Pole. We perfected new technologies of work in polar conditions: delivery of fuel by parachutes, systems of life security in Arctic and Antarctic, systems of communication and refueling of aviaequipment.
Everything for the first time: original construction of ice-aerodrome, new route through Franz Joseph Land. Ballonistss and divers joined us (last year there happened a tragedy, while diving died Andrey Ryizhkov).
We were held in Murmansk on IL-76 all together (more than 80 persons) because of weather conditions. Murmansk inhabitants will remember this delay for a long time. We ate and drank half-a-year stocks of products in local bars. We were not allowed to go to Murmansk, as airport is situated in 70 km from it, and in any moment the weather could change and we will have to leave urgently.
Several days I spent in controller’s office, became nearly native there.
Local inhabitants taught Austrian fellow smoke cigarettes «Belomor» - he confessed it was cooler than pot.
Success was not easy for us – our tractor got broken on ice floe, on “Barneo” ice floe got spilt.
For aeronauts the weather was not very good – strong wind, but they fulfilled the whole program – 5 balloons raised into air! Divers also worked without incidents – made photos of ice stalactites! So we are flying home tired and joyful – the South Pole is ahead! And we still don’t know what our “friends” and fate prepared for us!