Day Fifteen — Epic Odyssey
Irkutsk, Russia — Today is payback for yesterday’s indulgence, with a 2,400 nautical mile marathon ahead of us. Eight total flight hours, broken into three, two-and-a-half-hour legs, plus two fuel stops and a five-hour time change, totaling 15 hours elapsed time on the clock. The routing is Moscow (UUDD) to Yekaterinburg (USSS) to Novosibirsk (UNNT) to Irkutsk (UIII). S7 Airlines is providing their full support to ensure we progress as smoothly as possible. The goal – quick turns!
Everyone retired early last night in preparation for the 4 a.m. wake up call, 5 a.m. bus to the airport, and 7 a.m. launch. Our first fuel stop – Yekaterinburg — went smoothly with the S7 welcome crew, fuel trucks waiting, and a plated lunch served to us in a lovely VIP Center complete with carved mahogany woodwork, red velvet curtains, plush privacy booths, crystal glassware, and chandeliers. Thirty minutes later, we were back in the air for leg number two en route to Novosibirsk, former headquarters for S7 Airlines. Again, we enjoyed great support from S7: quick fuel, catered food, and then en route to our final destination, Irkutsk. Despite the concerted efforts of the extended team, we fell behind schedule and prepared for our first night landing of the tour. The sunset was spectacular, enhanced by the smoky skies, and was followed by a perfectly full moon rising from the clouds to light our way east. We touched down around 11:45 p.m. and arrived at the hotel by 12:30 a.m. Thankfully, the bar was still open. After some well-earned snacks and refreshments, we headed to bed for a very short sleep….