At the age of 87, the Ukrainian martial pilot reverted to Chernobyl last month since the 1986 calamity. He elicited how he had made 3 dispersed flights over the reactor to measure the radioactivity and composition of fumes inside.
More than 30 years ago Mykola Volkozub flew his helicopter in the altitudes of radioactive disaster that was Chernobyl’s nuclear reactor 4, the location of vilest nuclear accident, he recalls how he be anxious for his natural life.
“Some people may say they have no fear but nobody is not afraid. The only thing is that people perceive fear differently. One person is frozen by fear, another driven by it. I had to do it (fly over the reactor). I knew it was dangerous.”
Volkozub, pulled on a heavyweight lead vest to guard himself against the bursting radiation and was conferred with a “Hero of Ukraine” award for his valor. These 3 flights that lasted for only 20 minutes approx. in total, has nonetheless exposed him to such a great amounts of radiation that dosimeters went irrational when he tried to measure his exposure.
The misfortune in Soviet Ukraine was triggered by a substandard safety test that sent clouds of nuclear material across the Europe. This incident destroyed masses within weeks and forced thousands to abscond. The concluding fatalities of those killed by radiation-related infections such as cancer is subject to debate.
Observing the reactor after 33 years, Volkozub said he couldn’t distinguish it.
“It has nothing in common with how it was in the past. It was shattered totally shattered. There was a pipe (projecting into the sky) and some parts (of the vessel) were simply dangling,” he said.
“I had been getting ready,” he said. “It was a very comprehensive groundwork process. I did all the calculations for the helicopter – its weight, etc. Communications between team members were also very well planned.”
Regardless of his age, Volkozub still administers test pilots at Antonov, a Ukrainian national air plane producer, said he was calm and calculating at the time despite his fear.
He wandered through Pripyat where the nuclear power plant’s employees once resided, Volkozub remembered being present at the first meeting of an emergency commission.
“I heard how they conversed over the question ‘What shall we do? What shall we do?’ (Nuclear scientist) Valeriy Alexeyevich Legasov said procedures had to be immediately taken in order to protect the area to avoid the discharge of radiation at larger scales.” Legasov featured in the HBO’s mini-series “Chernobyl” as the main character.
The ill-fated reactor is now sheltered by an enormous confinement that was erected to conceal an aged coffin designed to halt radiation leak.