Chernobyl: last MI-8 flight
Chernobyl: last MI-8 flight

It`s surely that many people know about the MI-8 helicopter crashed in the sky over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, these shots circled the whole world at one time.

On October 2, 1986, Alexander Yungkind, Leonid Khristich, Nikolai Ganzhuk and Vladimir Vorobyov made a scheduled flight aimed at eliminating the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

It was necessary to perform processing of the roof of the station. What caused the helicopter crash and why did the crew of Vladimir Vorobyov fail to escape?

The Chernobyl Angels

From the memoirs of Major Vyacheslav Zheronkin, the commander of one of MI-8 and an eyewitness to the crash on board Vladimir Vorobyov, a retired military pilot and colonel:

…The guys were gathered from everywhere. There were many former Afghans among the helicopter pilots. Some crews were called upon to liquidate the consequences of the Chernobyl accident directly from military bases in Afghanistan. We flew from Bagram first to Ashgabat, thinking that on vacation, and then urgently to Kiev. Landing was not allowed in Zhulyany so that people shouldn`t be scared.

Half the country flew in the sky with weapons on board, landing only for refueling. When the locals saw low flying combat turntables, they shied away, thinking that a war had begun. The roar of a combat helicopter was not a test for the faint of heart. There was a refueling, an exchange of Afghan equipment for milk, cottage cheese, bread, canned goods in fifteen kilometers from the Chernobyl nuclear power plant…

…Helicopter crews sprayed glue over the roof of a nuclear power station in Chernobyl. The radiation dust lying everywhere was very dangerous. It was impossible to remove it in the traditional way. Therefore, in order to prevent her from rising into the air, it was decided to drop a special adhesive solution from the air.

It was this task that was performed on October 2, 1986, by the crew of Vladimir Vorobyov. He himself was called from the Far East, himself from Chita. He was in Afghanistan twice and got two orders of the Red Star…

The board of captain Vorobyov MI-8, loaded with tanks with adhesive solution, was supposed to empty the cargo above the Shelter object being built. Then the dust solidified in the glue was cut off, formed into rolls and taken away for disposal. This was done by biorobots, volunteers – soldiers of military service, whom 2-3 months at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant had been counted for two years of military service.

In addition to MI-8, flight crews flew on MI-26, someone on MI-24, everyone was based in different places. MI-26 was used to decontaminate the area the most often. About 20 tons of special fluid fit on board this heavyweight, and it poured the territory. Of the twenty flight crews, the most trained were taken for such work, who had experience working with external suspension.

The helicopter pilots called up for Chernobyl in the first stream had a slightly different task – they dumped sand and lead bags directly onto the reactor, the dose of radiation to the pilots was off scale. Only a few survived. The second stream dealt with decontamination of the territory…

What about radiation?

Pilots, like everyone else, worked in critical conditions, but everybody recorded only two x-rays per day for accounting. Everyone had a separate X-ray meter on board, and it had never showed less than five, then the arrow went into focus. Some got personal dosimeters, in the form of fountain pens, from submariners – they too often went off scale.

Some flights were very difficult, the dose to the pilots was more than 10 x-rays per hour. Some people asked with dismay why, having received a dose of 39, they recorded only 19 X-rays in their books. They answered that, they say, in this case, your place is not here, but in a hospital bed.

All of them were the young pilots, and no one wanted to go on a stretcher. The state of health did not deteriorate immediately, but gradually. Then no one had any idea that after years, pensioners of Chernobyl would stand in line for a doctor for 2-3 hours in an ordinary clinic.

It is unlikely that anyone paid attention to the obvious fact that the data in the card do not correspond to the actual dose received. There was a rule: if you get 25 x-rays, you go home. But if it were carried out, then it would be necessary to send not 600,000 liquidators, but two, or even three times as many to combat the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

How the helicopter actually crashed in Chernobyl

The crew of MI-8, led by Vladimir Vorobyov, on October 2, 1986, went to work according to the standard procedure – examination by a doctor, canteen. Next, helicopters were tested at the airport, they received preflight instructions to carry a solution with PVA glue on the external suspension.

The shift began at 6 a.m., about ten flights, 20 minutes per one, one side and the other. From the railways, where the refueling took place, to the reactor, and vice versa. From the last flight they flew after 5 p.m., the sun went down to sunset. The helicopter came from the blinding eye sun. Several cranes stood on the construction site of the Shelter.

A symbolic rail was attached to everyone for security reasons, in order to improve their visibility from the air. By tragic accident, there was no rail on one of them at that time, and the crane cable became almost invisible from the air. It was this crane that MI-8 caught on.

The sun blinded the eyes of the pilots, the board hovered for a second over the cable, the sudden splashes of the blades and the instant somersault of the helicopter down – all this caused another tragedy at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, which took the lives of the entire crew. Only a few hours later, another MI-8 of Major Vyacheslav Zheronkin, was sent to the scene of the tragedy to take the bodies of the dead comrades.

The moment of the accident was accidentally recorded by Victor Grebenyuk, a cameraman of the West Siberian newsreel studio, who, on the instructions of the management, recorded certain flights and made a newsreel about the work of eliminating the consequences of the Chernobyl accident.

This involuntarily made report is a pure coincidence that has become a worldwide sensation. Actually in the Soviet Union, few people knew about the helicopter crash in Chernobyl, a few meters from the third power unit, nobody really spread, the Internet was not in the Union at that time.

Then they said that was a miracle, they say, if the board fell directly to the third power unit, then a new disaster could not be avoided. Helicopter pilots, who later became known as the Chernobyl angels, received very high doses of radiation exposure.

The statistics are creepy – few have survived to the present day, every next anniversary of the Chernobyl accident, like a bell, counts those who did not live to see it — has died, died, died…