||July 31, 2007
Barnes & Noble.com
Bear Flight to Liberty
An intense, action-packed novel that focuses on the age-old battle of freedom against slavery as the crew of a giant aircraft defect from the Soviet Union.
In September 1976, Viktor Belenko defected to Japan in his MiG-25 Foxbat jet fighter, one of the most well-known defections from the Soviet block. But in that same year, there was another defection so embarrassing to the Soviets that its particulars remained a secret for more than twenty-five years.
All media accounts of Soviet TU-95 flights participating in the Okean 76 naval maneuvers mention only two planes. Whenever they were confronted in private, however, the Soviets acknowledged that in reality, three planes took off from Russia, with the third aircraft crashing at sea, killing everyone aboard. Since it sank in deep waters, no one attempted to salvage the wreck.
But what the Soviet authorities never acknowledged—publicly or privately—was that the third TU-95 made a bold and risky flight from the USSR to Canada. Because its crew defected, the Soviets never admitted that such an event happened. Bear: Flight to Liberty tells the third crew’s thrilling story.
After receiving the landing instructions, Captain Mikhail Makarov
starts the descent. His mind, however, is busy finding a solution to a more
“Yura, how much fuel left?”
“The needle is to the left of the red line. If we still have four hundred
liters, that’s a lot,” replies the Flight engineer, Senior Lieutenant Yuri
Yevdokimovich Kazakov, his tense voice betraying a slight trembling.
The airplane swallows fuel like a bottomless pit, and even though
now the runway can be seen in the horizon, the Captain knows four
hundred liters of fuel is not enough to get his machine there in one piece.
“Vasya, we’ll have to ditch. We won’t be able to reach the runway,”
Mikhail tells his copilot, First Lieutenant Vasily Aristarkovich Chkalov.
Opening the intercom line, he warns the rest of the crew: “Tovarishchi,
brace yourselves. We’ll have to ditch.”
Behind the flight deck, the technicians of the electronics team start
to clean their consoles of anything that could fly at the moment of impact.
Once everything is safely out of the way, they tighten their seat belts.
“Yura, how much left?” Mikhail asks again, in the vain hope of
hearing an answer different from the one he very well knows he will get.
“Empty. All gages red in all the tanks,” replies the Flight Engineer.
His trembling voice reveals the fear inside.
Any moment now the engines will sputter and die one after the
other. Looking at the water below, and then at the coast before him,
Mikhail fixes his gaze on the runway beyond, which now is so close and at
the same time, ironically, seems to be unreachable.
Blyad! Having come from so far, and when we’re almost there, this
has to happen! Well, at least there’s the consolation of knowing that we
arrived. The altimeter slowly marks the descent of the enormous Tupolev
towards the cold waters of Goose Bay, Canada. On its shores starts the
runway, and everyone’s possible salvation.
Despite that, Mikhail can hardly believe it. Less than two hours ago
he was furiously attacked by Soviet fighters, shooting rockets and bullets
in their attempts to destroy his plane before he reached his goal: Defection
to the West.
A well-researched account of the defection of a group of Soviet airmen at the height of the Cold War. KIRKUS DISCOVERIES
In 1976, after just weeks of harried planning, Capt. Mikhail Makarov leads the crew of a Soviet TU-95 airplane in their defection from the U.S.S.R. Though his plan is swiftly carried out, his decision to leave his homeland has been decades in the making. After years of distinguished service for the country’s air force—including two prestigious awards deeming him a “Hero of the Soviet Union”—Mikhail, increasingly disillusioned with Communist Russia, is court-martialed, demoted and sent to finish his career in the backwaters of the mother country. Deemed “politically unreliable,” Mikhail—forever a Russian but never a Communist Party member—bridles under Soviet rule and eventually plans a daring airborne escape. To do so, he must convince his crew to leave with him, develop a viable flight plan and avoid the potentially fatal attention of innumerable Soviet military officers and KGB stooges. The author tells Mikhail’s tale with meticulous care; his account is thoroughly detailed and filled with the depth of research that turns rough histories into credible recreations.
Nate Braden, co-author of The Last Sentry
BEAR is the product of Vargas-Caba's meticulous research into the Soviet Armed Forces and provides an authenticity few books on the subject can match. His careful marshalling of real-world facts to develop his work of fiction makes BEAR an exciting read for anyone who wants to remember how much was at stake during the Cold War.
Enjoyable and believable tale of a gamble for freedom! R. Ballister
Miguel Vargas-Caba's BEAR: FLIGHT TO LIBERTY is a gripping book about one Soviet aircrew's gamble to achieve freedom. In the 1970's, a Soviet aircraft commander has been put out to pasture in one of the USSR's most desolate northern bases. Once a great hero of the Soviet Union, his political views have had him banished, and destined to spend his life patrolling vast expanses of the North Atlantic in his TU-95, code named "Bear." Driven by a desire to live as a free man, he convinces his crew to gamble their lives in an attempt to be free. Will they make it?
This book is an attempt to tell the story behind the actual 1976 defection of a Bear aircraft, which embarrassed the Soviet Union so much that the details were kept secret for over 25 years. Though fiction, it is a believable, enjoyable story that captures well both the camaraderie of combat aircrew and the technical aspects of the aircraft of the time. I especially enjoyed the technical and language references included in the back of the book, which proved educational and also added an element of authenticity to the work.
Fans of techno-thrillers as well as Cold War and aviation enthusiasts will enjoy this book.
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Reader Reviews for "BEAR Flight to Liberty"
|Reviewed by Bob Stockton
|Ah yes. The old Tupolov TU-95 Bear with the counter rotating props. We bumped up against them many times in the sixties and early seventies.|