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the airport

The history of existence of the airport in Heliulia goes back into the times of the finnish posession of the Ladoga Karelia. There isn't much information on the airport's being in pre-war years - in 1940-1941 the 153rd airfighter brigade was stationed in Heliulia. The history of the Soviet usage and adaptation of the airport starts in the first post-war years, when it was declared to restore and prepare for further usage the production units and premices left from the former owner of the region. Officially the airport exists since 1939 - then the runways were made of gravel, there was proper drainage, but due to long stagnation the airport territory was turning into a swamp and after some time the neccessity for reconstruction arouse. On December 20th of 1977 they had finished building an asphalt-concrete runway; the airport building was built.

the terminal

Beginning in 1966 and till present the airport is being directed by Viktor Stepanovich Afonin. The airport staff at that time consisted of 17 people (four of them were cashiers), then they were downsized to 8 people. In 1966 besides fire-patroling and special flights of geophysical and geological expeditions the airport had two flights to Leningrad; a significant increase in passenger service was noted in the 70-s - every year the airport transported up to 10 000 passengers. In the summer, when the amount of work was at its maximum, daily 6 flights to Petrozavodsk and 2 flights to Leningrad were made. The city bus (# 1) from Sortavala came to pick up passengers from every flight - the administration of the airport made a schedule of the flights and then made an arrangement with the city transport company. The airport mainly transported passengers, cargo was rarely delivered by air - sometimes they would bring equipment for the school; there was also close cooperation with the wood-processing factory, which often helped the airport. In 1989 another runway reconstruction was finished - it was extended to be able to land the AN-28 planes; before that the airport only hosted the AN-2 airplanes and helicopters. There also were hydroplanes - the hydroport used to be in the military unit area, and then it was transported to the "hydrotown" area.

the extended runwaySince the beginning of its existence the Sortavala airport had belonged to the Petrozavodsk airtroops, later - aircompany; after the latter closed down, for two years the airport bore the status of Sortavala Airport Municipal Venture. In 1999 the airport was turned over to the North-Western Base of Forrest Maintanance and Air Protection from Forrest Fires. At present the airport conducts flights patrolling nearby forrests for forrest fires. Every year two planes from Vladimir, equipped for fighting forrest fires, come to Heliulia. MI-8 helicopters are used to extract firefighting brigades. Every year they conduct fire drills - fire paratroopers from all over Karelia come for practice in paratrooping and rope descent. Such training is conducted before the beginning of the season and are a compulsory preparation process before real work. Every spring and summer in the sky you can see white parachutes floating down towards the airport.

At present the airport does not facilitate any commercial flights for financial reasons - an hour of the AN-28 airplane airtime costs approximately 7.5 thousand roubles, an hour of the MI-8 helicopter airtime - 13 thousand. Although in the 80-s a project was made to increase the airport to host international flights - cooperation with Finland would be mutually beneficial - but the project was sent to Moscow and there it met the end of the Soviet era so it was never completed. In the winter time they do not clean the whole runway from snow, they only clean a small landing space for the MI-8 helicopter which makes flights to the Valaam island.