Two Czechs fly historical plane to North Pole

Updated: 2008-04-02 09:29

PRAGUE - Two Czech pilots flew a legendary historical Czechoslovak-made plane L-200 Morava to the North Pole, the expedition's spokesman Jiri Machovec said after the plane took off from the Aero Vodochody aircraft producer's airport on Tuesday.

The plane, produced in the 1950s, is to land in Oslo, the Czech news agency CTK said, adding that if the crew, Petr Bold and Richard Santus, gain the necessary permit, their next destination will be Tromsoe, Norway's northernmost airport.

In Tromsoe they will wait for favourable weather that would enable them to fly to the Svalbard archipelago. They are scheduled to land at the local airport Longyearbyen around April 4.

In the second phase of their expedition, the pilots want to head further northwards, cover more than 1,000 kms over the ocean and land at Russian base Barneo, situated on an ice block some 150 kms from the North Pole. From Barneo, they will charge for the final destination.

The temperatures in the Arctic are expected to be volatile, ranging from minus 35 to 25 degrees Centigrade.

Bold, who bought the plane recently, admitted that the expedition was very demanding as well as dangerous.

Apart from adverse weather, the pilots must reckon with an emergency landing on an ice block or even on water. Their equipment includes neoprene suits, a boat and guns in case they were attacked by polar bears.

They are scheduled to return home in later April.

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