Makhotkin Vasily Mikhailovich 
(10.10.1904–1974)


The famous polar pilot. 
Born on the very outskirts of the Peterhof district in the village of Koporye. Soon the family moved to Peterhof and settled in the village of Zavetnoye near the station of Old Peterhof. 
Together with his brother, who was only two years younger, Vasily studied at the former Peterhof School of the Secondary School of Vladimir V. Pavlova, which was transformed after the revolution into the United Soviet Labor School No. 416. Like many petergof boys, Makhotkin was engaged in sailing in the yacht club on the Merchant pier, which was for them a place of permanent residence in the winter, when snowstorms swirled rapidly over the smooth ice of the Gulf of Finland, and in summer, when snow-white yachts easily slid on the wide water surface . This hobby was very useful for Makhotkin in teaching the profession of sea pilot. 
After graduating from school in 1922, the young man entered the Leningrad military theoretical school of the Air Force of the Red Army, and then the Sevastopol military flight school, from which he graduated in 1931. He received the certificate of the commander of the Red Army - a military pilot and the direction of service as an instructor-pilot of the first category in the Military School of Naval Pilots of Yeisk. 
Becoming one of the best pilots, Makhotkin constantly performed various tasks of the government. In 1933, he conducted cotton aeroseeding in the republics of Central Asia, at the same time carried out numerous long-haul flights on transport aircraft, worked on passenger airlines Baku-Tiflis, Baku-Krasnovodsk, Irkutsk-Bodaibo, Irkutsk-Krasnoyarsk, in the north-west of the USSR in Karelia. 
It is obvious that such a professional and a person like Makhotkin could not remain aloof from participating in the development of the Soviet Arctic. In 1934  he voluntarily transferred to polar aviation and soon carried out a 1,200-kilometer flight on a “USSR-N-26” seaplane specially equipped for flights in the Arctic. 
Makhotkin’s name in the 1930s did not leave the pages of the central newspapers. He provided Arctic expeditions, conducted ice reconnaissance, flew Dixon, served the construction of Norilsk, more than once getting into difficult situations and with honor leaving them. In March 1936  he made a record flight on the Krasnoyarsk - Dudinka line, covering a distance of 2,400 kilometers along the Krasnoyarsk - Dudinka route and back to Igarka in one flying day. 
In 1936  the government approved a plan for landing at the North Pole of a scientific drifting station. In preparation for this unique operation, a flight to Franz Josef Land of two airplanes, piloted by M.V. Vodopyanov and Makhotkin. 
The purpose of the flight was to study the airway and search for a place for the ground air base from which flights to the pole will be carried out.

 

1936 Makhotkin on Cape Sterlegova

(photo from the archive of P.V. Wittenburg)


The aircraft, re-equipped and warmed by the R-5, took off from the Moscow central airfield on March 29. The flight was very hard, with numerous delays, breakdowns and accidents, only on April 21 the Tikhaya Bay polar station was reached on the island of Hooker on Franz-Josef Land archipelago. It was not possible to land on Rudolph Island, the planned end point of the route. Vodopyanov flew up to 83°N for exploration purposes. On the way back after takeoff from the ground Hooker on the plane Vodopyanova started a fire. I had to sit down, while landing both aircraft crashed. Crews managed to slip one of the two cars, on which the crew of Vodopyanov flew.Makhotkin stayed at the polar station until the arrival of the ship. Waiting for him, he and I.L. Ivashin managed to recover his plane and flew to Rudolph Island. The history of the development of the Arctic flight Vodopyanova and Makhotkina entered as the First Soviet high-latitude air expedition. 
No one could have imagined that very soon the legendary Makhotkin would turn into a Norilskstroy pilot Zeka from a famous order-carrying pilot who was awarded the Order of the Red Star and the Red Banner. 
In 1942  under a denunciation, he was convicted and arrested for 10 years for anti-Soviet propaganda. 
Whether he was in a private conversation, he spoke well of the aircraft of foreign production, or told a joke about Stalin. All four long years of the Great Patriotic War, one of the best and most experienced pilots in the country was deprived of the opportunity not only to defend his “Great Homeland”, in whose name he made his famous flight with Vodopyanov in 1936, but even to fly. He worked in the famous Gulag rybinskaya aviation shashiku, where, every cloud has a silver lining, he met famous scientists, designers, the color of the country's scientific and engineering thought, the grandees of domestic aircraft manufacturing, highly qualified specialists, talented and interesting people. Makhotkin is mentioned in his novel “The Gulag Archipelago” by A.I. Solzhenitsyn. 
After Rybinsk, he again fell into the Arctic, even flew a little on the aircraft of the geological service of the Norilsk Combine, before he was transferred to the Taganrog sharashka. There, the renowned pilot nevertheless had to abandon aviation and became the foreman of repairmen at the crushing workshop of the combine and the "Norilsk man involuntarily." 
Makhotkin  was released only in 1951 after full serving of "punishment". He could no longer master jet aircraft, and for reasons of health he was not suitable for propellers. In 1956, the regional court of the Krasnoyarsk Territory fully rehabilitated him “for lack of corpus delicti”. In Norilsk, a good memory has remained of Vasily Mikhailovich, he is still remembered and loved as a pilot, known to Norilsk from the “donorilskoy” period. 
The island (Pilot of Makhotkina) in the Kara Sea in the Nordenskiöld archipelago east of Taimyr Island. It was discovered during the flights of 1932 and 1935. polar pilots A.D. Alekseev and M.I. Kozlov. In 1936  this discovery was confirmed by hydrographic expeditions. Described, mapped and named in 1937 as the first wintering expedition of the Main Directorate of the Main Sea Route (1936–1937) on the hydrographic vessel "Toros" under the guidance of N.N. 
Alekseev.

 

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