Ritsland Alexey Alexandrovich

Soviet polar pilot, navigator.
Born in Kudeversky district of Tver province. After graduating from high school, he first entered the Leningrad Artillery School, and then completed a training course at the school of observers. In 1928 he was called up to the Black Sea Fleet bomber aircraft.
After demobilization, Ritsland connected his life with polar aviation. For six years of service in it, he made a number of famous flights, forever inscribing his name in the history of the conquest of the airspace of the Arctic. Ritsland, as a navigator, conducted ice reconnaissance in the Barents and Kara seas, participated in the rescue of the Chelyuskin inhabitants, mastered air routes over Eastern Siberia.
In recent years, he flew with VS Molokov. They have an exceptionally complex flight in 1935 on the route Krasnoyarsk - Yakutsk - Nagaevo - Uelen - Nordvik - Krasnoyarsk. In 1936  they made an unparalleled voyage along the entire Soviet Arctic coast, 30 thousand kilometers long. For this flight, Ritsland was awarded the Order of the Red Banner of Labor, and the following year - the Order of Lenin for outstanding skill displayed during the expedition to the North Pole in order to land on the ice of the group I.D. Papanin.
In February 1938  the question arose of the urgent evacuation of the Papanins. The Taimyr, Yermak and Murman icebreakers participated in the rescue expedition, as well as airplanes. But since the ships were going very slowly, and the planes might not have been able to board the already fragmented ice floe, they decided to send the airship "USSR B-6", which was able to quickly reach the polar explorers and, hovering over the ice floe, to pick up people equipment. It was built recently and was prepared for a long flight on the route Moscow - Novosibirsk, designed to initiate the country's first cargo-passenger airship.
The crew consisted of the best people of the airship squadron, the most knowledgeable commanders, navigators, flight mechanics - only nineteen people. The first navigator was appointed Ritsland.
February 5, 1938, despite the bad weather and blizzard, the airship launched on Murmansk. Six tons of fuel, placed in 18 tanks, 800 liters of antifreeze, a three-month supply of food, sets of warm clothes, tents, guns, a lot of other equipment, as well as boxes with pyrotechnics, were taken on board in the Arctic to find a black tent. 1, you may need to drop parachute bombs.
The airship flew at an altitude of 200-300 meters. Weather reports are not pleased: low clouds, snow, icing, thick fog. In such conditions, the flight took place within five hours. Then the weather temporarily improved - cloudiness rose, visibility increased to 20–30 km. Using the tailwind, the airship developed a speed of more than 100 km/h. After another two hours, the ship again entered the dense cloud zone. For security reasons, the flight altitude was increased from 300 to 450 meters. In order for aeronauts not to get lost on the way, workers along the railroad to Murmansk on their own initiative lit bonfires. But the aeronautics, not warned about it, were only amazed at the lights.
The airship flew using maps of 1906. Even an experienced Ritsland did not know exactly where they were. At 1856 hours on the same day, the radio operator of the ship “USSR B-6” transmitted another report on the course of the flight, but did not get in touch any more. What happened?
At about 19 o'clock not far from the city of Kandalaksha, straight along the course in front of the airship, in the breaks of fog, the outlines of the biceps mountain suddenly appeared. The second navigator Myachkov shouted: “Mountain! Fly to the mountain!" “Right to end"! - commanded the second commander Pankov. - To end"! But nothing helped. At great speed, the airship began to shoot down trees. The gondola was thrown up, shaken, everything around me was piercingly gnashing, bursting with a crash. The light went out immediately. Turning huge pines uprooted, the ship broke through a clearing. The gondola began to be filled with something caustic, choking. From the spark that had arisen, as it was believed, when closing the power supply circuit, a fire started. A terrible pyrotechnic explosion tore the walls of the gondola, lifted the steel keel on top of it, threw burning pieces of bulkheads tens of meters, tin cans with food, fragments of burning dusters, scattered steel mooring ropes. The airship turned into a roaring fire volcano. With a crash burst tanks with gasoline, boxes of ammunition. The flames of a giant pillar rushed to the clouds.
The tragedy occurred 39 kilometers from Kandalaksha. At 19.00 people at the railway station of the White Sea heard a strong deaf explosion. All thirteen people in the cockpit died. Among them was Ritsland. Only six aeronauts who were in the engine nacelles and in the tail were saved. Wounded and burned, they fell on the snow. Recovering from the shock, lit a fire and waited. In the morning they were found by a group of skiers and a search team on reindeer sledding.
The team members who died in the crash were buried in Moscow in the Novodevichy cemetery columbarium, section 4-5.
Cape in the northeast of the island of Karl Alexander archipelago Franz Josef Land. Named by polar cartographers in 1953.


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