Artur Chilingarov (1939-)
Artur Chilingarov is a Russian polar scientist and esteemed polar explorer, whose extensive career has seen him head up a number of high profile projects and expeditions in both the Arctic and Antarctic, including the first-ever dive to the North Pole ocean floor.
Chilingarov began his career as an engineer-oceanographer in the mid-1960’s at the Tiksi observatory of the Arctic and Antarctic Research Institute. In 1969, he was appointed head of the drift ice station “North Pole-19” and in 1971 became head of Bellingshausen Station of the 17th Soviet Antarctic Expedition. The late 1970’s brought Chilingarov back to the Arctic where, he directed experimental work on cargo transfers to fast ice during wintertime.
In 1985 Chilingarov led a rescue expedition aboard the icebreaker Vladivostok, to free a Russian research vessel which was ice-bound in the Southern Ocean, for which he was awarded the title Hero of the Soviet Union.
Chilingarov has led several expeditions to the Poles. His first expedition to the North Pole was aboard the atomic icebreaker Siberia in 1987. Then in January 2002 Chilingarov, along with 14 other tourists, flew to the South Pole aboard an Antonov An-3 biplane. Unfortunately the aircraft suffered a mechanical problem at the South Pole and the team required assistance from the USAP and Adventure Network International to fly off the continent.
Chilingarov returned to Antarctica in January 2007 during the International Polar Year (IPY) to lead the first-ever Mi-8 helicopter expedition to the South Pole. Later that year, he led the Arktika 2007 Expedition, which saw Chilingarov and five other explorers (including ALE partner Mike McDowell), descend on 2 Mir submersibles to the seabed 13,980 feet below the North Pole. The expedition’s principal objective was to demonstrate a workable method for deep under-ice submersible operations. Secondary objectives included geophysical and biological studies of the polar abyss. The expedition was 10 years in the planning and marked one of the last geographically significant ‘firsts’. The expedition also stirred some controversy, as the team planted a Russian flag on the seabed. Chilingarov was awarded the title of Hero of the Russian Federation for the successful completion of the expedition.
Chilingarov is First Vice President of the Russian Geographical Society, President of the State Polar Academy, President of the Polar Explorers Association, Member of the International Explorers club, and a Member of the Royal Geographical Society (UK). He acted as a statesman in the State Duma and the Federation Council of Russia between1993 to 2014 and was Special Presidential Representative for International Cooperation in the Arctic and Antarctic from 2012 to 2014.