Capt. Yevgen Vasylenko
Yevgen was one of our four pilots on the mission. His presence in the cockpit as well as back in the cabin was appreciated by everyone- he was steady, calm, and always had a smile. When we picked up Gennady during our pit stop in Kazakhstan, the two of them immediately connected. One of the highlights of the entire mission was when Yevgen told Russian Air Traffic Control as we came over the North Pole, in Russian language, that the “hero of Russia, Gennady Ivanovitch Padalka, is coming onboard.” They immediately gave us clearance direct to our destination- saving us precious minutes. And making us all laugh.
Two legs later, when we were landing at Punta Arenas, Yevgen was one of the pilots flying. The weather was dropping by the minute, rain was pouring in the pitch-black night, and we were out of gas after flying across the entire continent of Antarctica. Yevgen’s flying skills during that approach and landing, without several key pieces of navigational equipment working, quickly became legendary among our crew. The man had ice water flowing through his veins, and he literally saved the mission during that late-night approach in driving winter rain and wind.
When he’s not flying jets around the world Yevgen lives in Ukraine with his family.