Man's Dedication To Clearing A Field For Many Years Ended Up Saving More Than 80 Lives
In a world where superheroes seem to be the ones leaping buildings and saving damsels in distress, it's nice to know that even an ordinary man can save lives just by doing his job diligently.
This is the story of how a Russian man named Sergey Sotnikov managed to save the lives of dozens of people. And all he did was to devote himself to the work he was passionate about.
Izhma Airport - where the story began.
Once upon a time, Izhma, in Komi Russia, had an airport where flights took off from every day. It was a place buzzing with activities. However, in 2003, it was closed down. An airport that used to have up to 130 employees now had only one person dedicated to keeping the place alive, Sergey Sotnikov.
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Sergey was employed part-time and for only a couple of months a year when the airport was to be used as a helipad. In the state it was in, it was easy for the runway to be overgrown and become a part of the surrounding forest as the years went by. But Sergey never let that happen.
Over the years, he would clear the strip regularly. He kept the area clean and prevented locals from turning it into a dumping ground. He was passionate about the airport and hoped that someday, it would be resurrected. That never happened. But what did happen was that his dedication prevented 81 people from losing their lives one fateful day in 2010.
A crash that almost killed dozens.
On September 7, 2010, a Russian Tu-154 jetliner took off from Yakutia and was on its way to Moscow. The passenger-filled aircraft was passing through the Republic of Komi when all the onboard systems suddenly failed.
— Sergey Bednaruk (@s_bednaruk) January 4, 2014
The pilots knew there was only one way to prevent the casualty, and that was to find an emergency landing. But because nothing in the plane was working as it should, there was no way to navigate to the nearest airport. Hoping for some miracle, they decided to look for as flat a surface as possible to land the plane.
Alrosa Mirny Air Enterprise Airlines DRU590 Novosibirsk - Mirny Tu-154M RA-85684. In 2010 this aircraft operating Flight 514 suffered a complete in-flight electrical failure. It made a successful emergency landing at the closed Izhma Airport but overran the runway @planesonthenet pic.twitter.com/aP6cvzu9nL
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They were surrounded by forest, the sky was cloudy and it seemed there was no hope. Then out of nowhere, in the middle of all the trees and bushes, they saw a runway. One crew member who spoke to newsmen, later on, said they thought they were hallucinating at first.
Luckily, the vision was real and they were able to land the plane on the runway. The same one Sergey dutifully kept free and clean for many years.
While many people praised the pilots and crews for managing the plane without navigation and making sure it landed safely, the unsung hero in this story has to be Sergey. He was the one who made this miracle happen. He worked on that runway when he didn't have to and he ended up saving many.
It's been many years since this incredible incident took place, but there is still a lot to be inspired by regarding Sergey's story.