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Sergey Ananov, Russian helicopter pilot missing in Davis Strait, found alive

CBC logo CBC 2015-07-27

A Russian helicopter pilot who went missing during the Iqaluit-to-Greenland portion of a trip around the world was down to his last flare when he was found on a floe in the Davis Strait this morning.

Sergey Ananov was travelling to Greenland in a Robinson R-22 helicopter after fuelling up in Iqualit when the Canadian Forces Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre received information about a missing helicopter Saturday morning.

"It couldn't have been a more austere area of the planet to be in the Davis Strait between Baffin Island and Greenland. It's a pretty rough terrain, a lot of ice in it," said Rear Admiral John Newton.

He says Ananov had seconds to get out once his helicopter landed on the water. After surviving the crash, he had to deal with the cold, limited supplies and polar bears.

"He had some charming neighbours that had come to his location to inquire what he was up to," said Newton.

The Canadian coast guard ship Pierre Radisson spotted a red flare early Monday morning — Ananov's last.

Russian pilot Sergey Ananov is attempting to fly solo around the Arctic Circle in his Robinson R-22 helicopter. © John Van Dusen/CBC News Russian pilot Sergey Ananov is attempting to fly solo around the Arctic Circle in his Robinson R-22 helicopter.

"He apparently had all his skills and his facilities to look after himself to stay alive, to stay warm, fend off the polar bears and fire the last flare in his package to alert the Pierre Radisson of his location," said Newton.

"He's OK. The joy of being found is the overwhelming emotion that cures a lot of your ills."

The boat is now en route to Iqaluit.

Ananov began his world trip June 13 in Moscow.

He had arrived in Iqaluit on July 23 via Labrador and Nunavik, in a helicopter weighing less than a tonne, after a long journey across North America. 

The helicopter was reported overdue at 3:20 p.m. ET Saturday.

Two Hercules search-and-rescue aircraft and a Cormorant helicopter from 14 Wing Greenwood in Nova Scotia were dispatched to join the search, which also involved a Transport Canada patrol plane and a fishing boat.

The Facebook group tracking Ananov's trip thanked the Canadian crew members for their efforts.

"Sergy is alive," it reads. "Thanks everyone for your prayers and well wishes and undescribable gratitude to all the men and women of the Canadian Search and Rescue."

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