Alexey Shaburov's Project
On behalf of radio amateurs around the world, I greet the MVK Project “Role of HISTORY in life and business”, dedicated to the 70th anniversary of the exploits of the Members of the Papanin Polar Expedition and its distinguished radio operator Ernst Krenkel.
In 1983, British radio amateur Tony Smith, G4FAI, wrote an article about E.T. Krenkel, for "Radio" Magazine, Moscow, in which he concluded:
"It is one of the fine things about amateur radio that it brings together people with a common interest and friendship transcending national boundaries, language, and other differences. It is even more remarkable that within our hobby some stand out, like Ernst Krenkel, to attract the respect and admiration of fellow-amateurs around the world. He has an honoured place, both in the history of his country and in the history of world-wide amateur radio."
While praising the achievements of the Papaninites on North Pole station UPOL in 1937 we should also remember those involved in the project who were to lose their lives.
On August 12th, 1937, Sigismund Levanevsky set out to fly across the North Pole from Moscow to Fairbanks, Alaska, in a four-engine aeroplane designated N-209. This followed on from the earlier successful transpolar flights of Valery Chkalov and Mikhail Gromov in their single-engine ANT-25 planes. On board with Levanevsky were crew members N.G. Kastanayev, V.I. Levchenko, N.Y. Galkovsky, N.N. Godovikov and G.T. Pobezhimov. But the N-209 crashed and not one of the six members of the crew returned from the Arctic.
Ernst Krenkel wrote in his book “RAEM Is My callsign”:
“I spent 40 hours without sleep listening for Levanevsky. Towards the end I listened standing up in order not to fall asleep. My ears were sore from the long hours in earphones and I do not know whether I could have borne this hellish burden without the black coffee Papanin tirelessly brewed for me. By the morning of August 14th the entire Arctic was listening for Levanevsky. As well as the Soviet polar stations, US stations had also joined the watch. All radio stations were mobilised, including military and amateur stations.
The circumstances of the tragedy remain a mystery to this day.
On February 6th, 1938, the dirigible USSR-V-6 left Moscow for Murmansk en route to the shores of Greenland to pick up the Papaninites from their icefloe which was fast disintegrating. Approaching Kandalaksha, flying blind in a snow storm, the V-6 dirigible crashed into a mountain and thirteen of the nineteen man crew were killed.
In the wall of the old monastery by the Novodevichy cemetery in Moscow, urns contain the ashes of the thirteen members of the crew who perished: N.S. Gudovantsev, I.V. Pankov, S.V. Dyomin, V.G. Lyanguzov, T.S. Kulagin, A.A. Ritsland, G.N. Myachkov, N.A. Konyushin, K.A. Shmelkov, M.V. Nikitin, N.N. Kondrashov, V.D. Chernov and D.I. Gradus.
As Ernst Krenkel also wrote in his book: “The names of these men, who died in the performance of their duty, must never be forgotten”.
Mike J Hewitt
Amateur Radio Station G4AYO