Russian Passenger Plane's Icy River Landing: A Winter Tale

Russian Passenger Plane’s Icy River Landing: A Winter Tale

Well, here’s something you don’t see every day – a Russian passenger plane accidentally landing on a frozen river!

This unusual incident happened recently when a twin-propeller Antonov-24 operated by Polar Airlines touched down on the icy Kolyma River. The 30 passengers and 4 crew members ended up just a stone’s throw from the nearby Zyryanka Airport runway, which runs parallel to the river.

Luckily, no one was injured during the surprise river landing. Once the plane came to a stop on a sandbank, the passengers simply disembarked and walked over to the airport. The vintage Soviet-era aircraft also seemed no worse for wear.

Still, Russian investigators quickly pinned the blame on the pilots, saying they made a mistake in the -40F degree temperatures and snowy conditions.

In their defense, I can see how it would be tricky to distinguish between the frozen river and the unlit airport land in the dead of a Siberian winter. Plus, the Antonov-24 is designed to handle rough landings on makeshift runways.

While unique, this is not the first Russian aviation mishap recently. There have been 60 other emergency landings and malfunctions in 3 months, which officials link to sanctions restricting aircraft maintenance.

Remember that Airbus that landed in a wheat field? Pilot error again supposedly.

I guess miraculous river landings like Captain Sully’s “Miracle on the Hudson” are only heroic when they happen in America. For Russian pilots, safe improvised landings still mean getting blamed by authorities.

At least the Polar Airlines passengers got an unusual story out of their winter trip up north. “How was your flight grandma?” “Oh, pleasant enough – we just landed on a frozen river, no big deal!” After all, ’tis the season for taking the sleigh over the river and through the woods to grandmother’s house we go…