The American film "Survivor," which today claims to be an Oscar and goes to our cinemas, is beautifully filmed and well thought out. But what is fiction versus real history, which learned about the "Spark" - about surviving in 1943 year in the mountains of Alaska, the Russian navigator Konstantin Demyanenko
Senior Lieutenant Demyanenko fell out of an airplane that Soviet pilots drove from America to the USSR under a Lend-Lease program. Under each word of this story is a document: the memoirs of Alsib's pilot-reformers (Alaska-Siberia, an air route between American Alaska and the USSR, operating since 1942); Records of the Hero of the Soviet Union and Knight of the American Order of the Legion of Honor Lieutenant General aviation Mikhail Grigoryevich Machin (he was the head of the Soviet military mission for the acceptance of American aircraft in the American Fairbanks); memories of friends and relatives of the protagonist of those events - the navigator Konstantin Petrovich Demyanenko; documents and materials, including several pages written by Demyanenko himself.
Fallen from the sky
... On a warm June 1943 day of the year, at the aerodrome of Ladd Field in Fairbanks, another dozen of A-20 Boston front bombers were preparing to fly out. They were to be transferred to Nome, to which there were more than 800 kilometers, and then through the Bering Sea to the Chukchi village of Uelkal. Dispatch of the air group was delayed by dense clouds in the mountains. A more powerful B-25 Mitchell bomber was sent to investigate the weather on the route. Pilots of the 1-th ferry regiment based in Fairbanks were waiting for his messages in full readiness.
The crew escorted the flight of a gray-haired Catholic priest, Father Anthony. Both Americans and Russians treated him with respect.
- Holy father! - the head of the Soviet military mission in Alaska, Colonel Mikhail Grigorievich Machin, who was waiting for meteorological information from the route, turned to him. - Are you closer to heaven than you, tell me, will the weather not let us down today?
- For all the will of God! - Father Antony answered. - But personally, I will pray for the safe return of your guys.
And the guys, taking off their summer jackets, were carelessly basking in the sun. They smoked and teased each other. Pilots-drivers rush into the road intriguing news: in Uelkale they can have time to try fresh bear meat cutlets. This was told by navigator Konstantin Demyanenko: the duty officer at the command and control tower, Joseph Feyes, told him in secret that the Chukchi had killed a huge polar bear wandering into the airfield. True or another bike, no one knew.
From Alaska to Chukotka, Lend-lease A-20 "Boston" bombers were delivered by Soviet crews of two people. Usually they sat together in the front cockpit, and the navigator was slightly ahead of the pilot. But that day a special batch of aircraft was overtaken, where four 20-mm guns were installed in the nose. In this variant, the front bombers of the medium-range A-20 "Boston" could be used as night fighters of long-range aviation (they were more often used as torpedo bombers at sea). And here the navigator sat down behind the pilot - in the place of the gunner-radio operator in the rear cockpit.
B-25 "Mitchell" found the "window" in the clouds and led the top ten "Boston". Air group safely passed most of the route. But when they flew up to the ridge that stretched along the coast, the clouds were thickened. In a circular way, from the side of the bay of Norton, the planes came to Nom, but the coastal airfield was closed by thick clouds. Having been refused a landing, the caravan commander was forced to turn back the entire air group.
The return trip over the mountains of Alaska took place in a protracted "blind" flight. Crews in the swirling clouds have lost sight of both the leader and each other. Everyone had to cross the ridge one by one. All the cars landed safely at the intermediate airfield in Galena on the Yukon River. But there was no navigator in the same carriage — the lieutenant Konstantin Demyanenko’s joker. "Took off!" - Mikhail Grigorievich thought about him in the hearts when he was informed about the incident.
Machin knew Konstantin Demyanenko well. He liked the cheerful temper of the navigator and how seriously he played the chastooshkas to the accordion. But the main thing - Demyanenko was a competent specialist who quickly mastered the American radio equipment and navigation system of flights over the US territory. In adverse weather conditions, Colonel Machin sometimes took him with him, and Kostya never failed.
Postponing all the work, Colonel Machin flew to Galen. He carefully examined the bomber with an open rear cockpit - it was obvious that the navigator fell out. On the tail plumage there was a dent with a shred of yellow skin. Someone remembered that Kostya was wearing yellow shoes ...
Signs from the ground
Bad weather prevented the immediate search for lieutenant. The rain poured down in buckets, and when he calmed down a little, Soviet crews flew in search of the missing navigator, who sat down without him in Galen. They offered their help and allies. By order of the commander of the aviation base at Fairbanks, Brigadier General Dale Gaffney, the American pilots made observations from the air as they flew over the area where a Russian officer could allegedly be parachuted.
Mikhail Grigorievich himself made several missions to the area. Alas, it was not possible to find anything consolatory. Downstairs there were only forested mountains. Even brave singles from Jack London's Arctic stories did not get to these places.
Another week has passed. Hope to save Bones is almost gone. And suddenly Colonel Machin was asked to go to the commander of the air base Dale Gaffney.
- Michael! - Brigadier General rushed to meet him from the table. - I have good news for you! Perhaps your navigator is alive! Lieutenant Nikolai de Tolly, returning from Nome to Fairbanks, found a white cloth on a mountain pass. It is tied to the top of a dried tree on the edge of the abyss ...
Mikhail Grigorievich respected the descendant of the Russian commander Barclay de Tolly. After the October Revolution, the mother brought Nicholas a seven-year-old boy from Russia - first to Turkey, then to the USA. In America, he became a first-class pilot, having mastered all types of aircraft that were now distilled by Lend-Lease to his former homeland. He trained many Russian officers, including Konstantin Demyanenko, to navigate maps in the sky of Alaska ...
Dale Gaffney showed a point in the mountains - a deserted area, located north of the driving route for almost a hundred kilometers.
Mikhail Grigorievich immediately flew out in search of Demyanenko. Quite quickly Colonel Machin saw a white shred of a parachute tied to a lonely tree near the ridge of the ridge. From the cockpit of the B-25 it was clear that the ridge served as a watershed. One river descended to the southwest and went to the Pacific Ocean. A smaller river was circling along another slope, making its way to the north. But where did Demyanenko go?
While combing the valleys of both rivers, Mikhail Grigorievich was falling in such a way that he almost clung to the cliffs with his wing. But there was no trace of a man anywhere. In the following days, the search was continued by other crews, including American ones, to no avail. Hope for the rescue of the navigator began to fade again, but during the next departure to the search area a miracle happened: Machin saw smoke rising from the ground and a man in a tattered blue shirt lying in the middle of the fire-scorched platform!
Kostya also saw a twin-engine plane from the ground. The bomber passed over him, then, making a U-turn, dropped even more. On board the aircraft dropped a sleeping bag with edible supplies, a pistol with cartridges. On the new approach a glove arrived with a note: "Please do not leave anywhere. Eat little. Wait for salvation!"
Approximately one and a half kilometers from the fires, Machin noticed a small lake - perhaps a small seaplane could have landed here.
The diameter of the lake was 500 meters. Will there be able to sit single-engine seaplane? His commander, Lieutenant Blacksman assured: be able to. The order of interaction proposed by the Russian colonel was agreed: after the landing of the flying boat, the Machin bomber had to take a constant course over the American rescuers, pointing in the direction of Demyanenko, without a hint from the air in the tall grass one could easily go astray. Machin recommended Lieutenant Blacksman to take fuel to a minimum: this made it easier to land and take off in the mountains, where the air is thin.
Bomber came to the lake first. Below was a complete calm - not a wrinkle on the surface! Kostya did not cause concern either, although he barely got off the ground as soon as he saw a familiar plane. But with the advent of the flying boat, the shutter speed changed the navigator. Realizing that she sat in the water, he violated the order to remain in place and rushed to meet his rescuers. And those, not knowing about it, moved along the high grass along the course that they were laying for them in the sky B-25. The grass sheltered people coming towards each other.
The Americans, having reached a scorched glade, stopped in bewilderment. Next to the glowing coals lay a sleeping bag, dropped from the B-25, the remnants of a parachute, but there was no Russian navigator anywhere! Demyanenko, meanwhile, came to the shore of the lake. Seeing the seaplane and flight engineer next to him, he fell unconscious ...
The rumor about the rescue of the Russian officer, who spent nearly a month alone in the deserted mountains, quickly spread throughout the district. Everyone who was free from work, and even the Eskimos from the nearest village after landing a seaplane, ran to the river.
The navigator was carefully carried out of the cabin in his arms. He was unconscious. It was impossible to learn Demyanenko - his face was so swollen from mosquito bites and midges, his eyes did not open. Mikhail Grigorievich even thought that this was not “his” navigator, but someone else. Recovering, Kostya slowly with both hands took the hand of the commander and silently pressed it to his chest. He could not speak.
A week later, when the navigator got stronger, he was transferred to the hospital in Fairbanks. There he was visited by Colonel Machin. Inflammation from mosquito bites in Demyanenko was so severe that he still could not shave. Mikhail Grigorievich recalled: in Spain, where he fought on the Republican side, he was told a similar incident, which ended tragically. Mosquitoes in the Argentinean steppe (pampa) stung to death the famous revolutionary Ivan Dymchenko, one of the leaders of the uprising on the battleship Potemkin in June 1905 of the year.
Alone and without shoes
Kostya told Macin what happened to him. During the long "blind" flight over the mountains, seeing the "window" in the clouds, Demyanenko opened the back cabin cap and leaned out of it to attach to the terrain. A pilot in the front cockpit, unaware of the actions of the navigator, dived into this “window” at a large angle — the senior lieutenant was thrown overboard during this maneuver. While falling, Demyanenko kicked the tail stabilizer. It’s good that with a heel, otherwise I would have broken my leg - then surely he would have died! And so got off with a bruise and loss of a boot. The tail of the plane tore his chest and temple. When he awoke in a muddy mist, he realized that he was flying to the ground in a stone, and he jerked the ring of the parachute.
The falling man was picked up by the ascending stream that he carried over the ridge. The parachute lowered it onto dry branches of stunted pine that grew on the edge of a rocky cliff. The navigator pulled a knife from his belt and carefully cut the straps and slings with it. In addition to the knife, his pistol and matches survived, but they were damp.
It was damp on the ground. Descended from a pine tree, Demyanenko found himself in a small grove. In some firebox, he lost his second boot. I had to go back to the pine-savior. There, having gutted the parachute, the senior lieutenant took cover under the dome. But this "roof" was unreliable. Under the pouring rain all the clothes were soon soaked to the skin. Such deadly tiredness fell upon the navigator that he did not notice how he fell asleep ...
The next day, the navigator cut off a piece of parachute lining and tied white matter to the top of a pine tree - this then saved his life, serving as a good reference point from the air. But it was impossible to sit under a tree - there was a bear trail nearby. The meeting with her masters did not keep them waiting: a huge furry beast with a cub came out onto the parachutist. It was a female grizzly. The bear came and sniffed the stranger, followed by his mother sniffed him and the bear cub. The navigator was afraid to look away and move - the hunting instinct could induce predators to attack. The game "peepers" lasted quite a long time. But the beasts are gone. Perhaps they were frightened off by the smell of gasoline (it hit the parachute dome when refueling the aircraft). Or maybe they were in a hurry to the river that ran along the bottom of the precipice - there the salmon had already gone to spawn.
Taking a deep breath, the senior lieutenant rolled the remnants of the parachute into a bag and set off down the slope to the river. A few kilometers he went downstream. Then he built a raft from dry trees. On it floated down, believing that the river will sooner or later bring it to the people. But she, on the contrary, only took the navigator away from the inhabited places.
After a couple of days the raft crashed on the rocks. There was no food. The pilot ate unripe berries like raspberries and blueberries — he stuffed all his pockets with them. Once he managed to shoot a bird like a thrush from a pistol, but Kostya could not swallow raw poultry meat.
Soon the navigator himself almost became prey, unexpectedly meeting another huge grizzly bear in a bush on a hillside. For some time they looked at each other through the branches. The senior lieutenant slowly took out a pistol and fired a deliberate shot. He wanted to scare the beast, and succeeded.
They broke up without blood.
But another time there was a serious clash with another bear and its adult bear. I had to wound the beast in the nose. After that, Demyanenko had only one cartridge left in the gun. He decided to save it for himself. A plane flew over it several times, but there was nothing to signal.
Completely exhausted navigator out of the coastal fishing line in the valley, overgrown with tall grass. He tried to set fire to dry stalks, but the damp matches still did not catch fire. The remaining five pieces Kostya took out of the box and put it under his arm. With the thought: "This is the last chance for salvation!" - he fell asleep.
When I woke up, my face and hands were burning from their mosquito bites and mosquitoes. But the warmth of the body made a miracle. The navigator got matches from under his arm, struck one of them - she lit up! He brought a trembling light to a dry stalk. A blade of grass flared up, the fire began to gain strength. This smoke was noticed from the air by Colonel Machin ...
While still in the Fairbanks hospital, Senior Lieutenant Demyanenko received an anonymous letter from Orenburg. He was delighted: maybe the long-awaited information about his wife and little son, who remained with his mother-in-law? From them for a long time there was no news. But the letter dealt him another blow — to the heart. Some kind of "well-wisher" informed the navigator that Tamara was married and asked not to worry anymore. He wondered what had happened to his family.
In the hospital, Kostya was recognized to be partially fit for flight service. After much hesitation, he showed an anonymous letter to Colonel Machin. Mikhail Grigorievich gave the 10-day vacation to the navigator in order to "deal with the family."
Crossing the threshold of the apartment Tiffany, the navigator stood at the door. On the bed sat a cropped woman with a bandaged face. Her legs were wrapped in down shawls.
It turned out that for three and a half months Tamara had lain in the hospital, having contracted typhoid fever. On the same days, when Kostya died in the mountains of Alaska, her life also hung in the balance. She did not dare to write to her husband about serious complications: her legs were swollen, her jaw was inflamed. She could not even kiss her husband out of the way. When they both came to their senses a little, it turned out that the anonymous author who wrote the deceptive letter in Alaska was a rejected fan. The guy tried to seduce a beautiful woman with an increased ration issued at his defense plant ...
What happened next? And then life went on: the navigator for about a year drove the American bombers from Yakutsk to Kirensk, then from there to Krasnoyarsk. In November 1944, Kostya finally received the long-awaited permission to send to the front, and Victory Day met the rank of captain with the Order of the Red Star.
And at the beginning of 1950, a case was opened on Demyanenko: the NKVD decided that Kostya was recruited by the CIA during his absence from the Fairbanks base. Then Demyanenko was asked to talk about moods in the squadron, and when he flatly refused to inform his comrades, he was threatened with dismissal from flight work.
In recent years, Demyanenko lived in Irkutsk, died of transient sarcoma in 1961 year. His wife Tamara managed to fulfill her husband’s last will - to bury him in a cemetery near the airfield. And now every plane landing and taking off in Irkutsk overshadows its grave with its wing.