All week, all that’s been written about is Winter Storm Cato and the effects it could have on Thanksgiving travelers. But for those ready to gripe about a two hour delay and two inches of snow, be thankful that you weren’t these Siberian passengers, who got off their flight and braved -61ºF temperatures to push their plane to help unfreeze the wheels.
The Siberian Times has more on this amazing story:
When their plane literally froze on the ground at Igarka airport, above the Arctic Circle, there was no need to panic. Fearing the UTair service to regional capital Krasnoyarsk could be delayed, many of the 70 passengers used brute strength to free the 30-ton Tupolev 134.
Men are heard shouting: ‘Come on, push!’ As one was heard saying on a video of the incident: ‘Real men can plant a tree, build a house, and push a plane.’
Another added: ‘We just want to get back home.’
The airport’s tractor could not move the Tu-134 because its brake pads were frozen. ‘When people pushed the plane, the wheel cranked out, and then the aircraft could continue to move,’ [an airport employee] explained.
The plane later took off and landed safely in Krasnoyarsk. Most of the passengers were oil and gas workers on their way home after a stint in the Arctic production flields.
-61 degrees Fahrenheit. I couldn’t lift my hands six inches to sip a steaming mug of hot chocolate in -61 degrees, much less push a plane.
This story has been the subject of some controversy, as Russian officials claim the passengers didn’t really push the plane, and were only posing with the plane, in the Arctic Circle equivalent of a selfie.
West Siberian transport prosecutor’s aide Oksana Gorbunova rebuked the plane movers. ‘Passengers were asked to leave the plane and go to the bus standing nearby,’ she said. ‘After that, some of them voluntarily left the bus and went to the plane, trying to assist in moving it using physical force.
‘Naturally, the plane was moved by the truck, because people physically could not do it. It looks like a joke. It would be funny if it could not have dire consequences: people could damage the casing and flaps of the aircraft.’
Airport chief Maxim Aksyonov claimed: ‘Most likely, the plane’s passengers, oil workers, decided to do a kind of ‘selfie’. It was a good joke and it became a big thing on the Internet.’
Despite the official word, passengers claim they really did push the plane, and that it would not have become unstuck without them. Who do we trust, Russian officials or Siberian oil and gas workers?
[h/t Siberian Times]