It’s always calm to fly with Dima. Not everyone can claim
Humble by nature, Dima didn’t want to give an interview. But, having heard many of his fascinating stories, I couldn’t miss a chance and talked him into a conversation. We brought
Кsu: Where are you from and what influenced your choice of occupation?
Dima: I was born in Sverdlovsk. Being 3 months old, my parents brought me to Kamchatka, so I am a “Kamchadal” since then. Parents are geologists, they were very often flying on helicopters.
I think this was the main reason for me to make this choice. Honestly, after 8th grade I wanted to become a biologist and was thinking to apply to Bauman University; but aviation has taken over.
Кsu: You’ve seen the whole Kamchatka from a bird’s eye view. Which places or phenomena have struck you the most?
Dima: Tolbachinsky volcano eruption, it was breathtakingly cool! I have never experienced anything like this in my entire life. Especially at night, when it started and lava poured down on us.
This is truly the most epic and
Ksu: And how many times you took groups to that eruption?
Dima: About 10 times or more.
Кsu: So, you’ve seen all of the stages?
Dima: I was there since the beginning, on the 3rd day.
Кsu: One of the first?
Dima: Not the first, but amongst
Ksu: How close to lava you were flying?
Dima: 25-30 meters or something like
Кsu: What other global eruptions do you remember?
Dima: Klyuchevskaya, from afar. Karymsky was great as well. We spent the night nearby and saw it in the nighttime. This was for Travis Rice’s shooting. In the morning helicopter was covered by the ashes for about 7сm.
Кsu: What can you say about Travis? Did you like working with him?
Dima: For sure interesting. The guy is nuts, in a good way. Very professional and demanding, first of all to himself.
Кsu: When was your first experience of heli-skiing? What brings pilots to such things? What skills are required?
Dima: If start counting from the time when I was a co-pilot, I have about 20 years of experience. Vladimir Ivanovich Shevtsov was amongst first ones to bring heli-skiing to Kamchatka. So it all started with him. I was flying with commander Danilov at that time. Sergey Rodoslavovich was a highly experienced pilot; he was my instructor on a commander’s entry and my mentor in heli-skiing. This job requires a straight eye, fast reaction
Кsu: Though not overconfident!
Dima: Yeah, that’s right! Confident but reasonable. First of all, you need to competently assess yourself, and your equipment.
Кsu: You started to fly in 1993? When was your first heli-skiing in Kamchatka?
Dima: There was a group of Americans in 1991. There were flying with commander Sakaev with Shevtsov as a guide. They flew to the Kronotsky volcano, there were no such strict laws on restricted places at that time.
Кsu: For sure you have funny stories related to your first heli-skiing experience.
Dima: Yeah, well, there was a time when Alexander Sasha Moroz dug out a helicopter. We were ready to fly from Karymsky. After the night, we have to check engines separately, one and then another.
There were cases when people forgot their skis in the helicopter, even guides themselves, so we had to take off again to throw the skis off.
Кsu: Do you remember any extreme situations? Fear? Betrayal?
Dima: There were all sorts of cases. But seems like a have an angel to protect and guide me. Once, we flew to pick up French from Kluchevskaya and went into a snowstorm. We had to turn back with zero visibility.
Кsu: What does your family think about your flights?
Dima: Of course, they are worrying. I call every time I land and when there’s a signal. If I don’t get in touch for a long time, they call
Кsu: How many children do you have?
Dima: Well, five.
Кsu: How did that happen?
Dima: Had a lot of flights! (laughing) Actually, two of them are mine, and three are from the second wife. We are thinking about the six one. The oldest three are students already.
Кsu: Anyone wants to become a pilot?
Dima: The youngest one. Says he’s gonna be a
Кsu: Most of the time you fly on MI-8. What do you think about other flight transports?
Dima: I don’t like Robinsons, probably will never fly on them. For
Кsu: Tell me please a little bit more about your educational background.
Dima: Well, it was still the Soviet Union, in Ukraine,
Now we also have only
Кsu: So you didn’t fly anywhere but in Kamchatka?
Dima: With Kamchatka Airlines I’ve been in Chukotka and Magadan region.
Ksu: I remember a story you once told me about a rescue mission that had a huge impact on you.
Dima: It was a few years ago, on New Year’s Eve. A hunter disappeared and didn’t get in touch for a few days. On
Кsu: You are a true hero for those who fly with you. Do you have someone that inspires you?
Dima: I can name all the old pilots, pioneers of aviation in Kamchatka. Samarsky, Fomin, of the living –
Кsu: If not pilots, but in general heroes of your time that inspired you since childhood?
Dima: As a child if the Soviet Union, I was raised on some national military heroes, like Chapaev. Nobody knew Spider-Man or Captain America. Speaking of book heroes, in my childhood I liked Captain Blad from Rafael Sabatini novel. D’Artagnan! I liked adventures books. We all loved cosmonauts. Gagarin, of course.
Кsu: Ever seriously considered cosmonautics?
Dima: Yes, I did. But I don’t like the army. Unfortunately, all cosmonauts are military men. I also wanted to become a test
Кsu: What is the maximum amount of time you can fly without stopping? When do you start feeling tired?
Dima: For example, if you fly straight, you can get tired of
Ksu: How does the process of fire extinguishing go?
Dima: There’s a reservoir hung down the helicopter, you have to scoop water and then pour it out. Pretty hard work. It’s not always possible to scoop from
Кsu: For how long you have been fond of photography? What was your first camera?
Dima: Smena-8M, a soviet camera. I was 10 years old; dad instilled me with love to photography. He did photos himself, and then together we would develop films and print photos. There was something magical in it. You look at an empty sheet of paper and see how the image appears. What hurts me the most is that at some point he just burned all the boxes with photos. I was able to keep only slides from 1971.
Mutnovsky volcano was very different at that time. Landing platform for excursions was the whole field. Now yellow, fumaroles were looking like pyramids. There were not 3 but about 10 cones, from which the smoke was pouring. Everything covered with smoke!
Кsu: What else did you have with you?
Dima: With Smena you had to do everything manually. Then there was Vilia-Auto, half-automated. After that I had Zenit, Olympus, Nikon for a short
Кsu: Do you participate in photography events?
Dima: I’m ok being in shadow.
Кsu: You are too shy, Dima!
Dima: Shy, maybe. But also I don’t have time to show everything. Leave it for retirement, I guess.
Кsu: We were together in Tumroki hunting base a few times. I was stroked by your cooking skills.
Dima: Hard and hungry childhood! No, of course not, this is just a collective image. My dad is a hunter and he cooks very well. Wildfowl is easy to make! I couldn’t be a chef, too many hard processes and technologies. Here is easy, take a piece of meat, roast it and eat! Products should be fresh, food – simple. Every man has to know how to get
Кsu: You travel a lot. What countries
Dima: Kenya and Morocco are two countries in which I really want to return. Historically and culturally, I liked Armenia a lot, the cradle of Christianity. For now, my huge dream is Antarctica!
In case you have any additional questions for Dima, you can ask them at the end of this article. Follow Dmitry Zadirey on Instagram @dmitryzadirey to see fascinating pictures of Kamchatka and Kuril Islands.