WIU Student Goes to the North Pole

Dear Editor,

Here is a very unique story, “WIU Student goes to the North Pole.” This story tells how a disabled vet and non-traditional student, by the use of pure thought, made his way to the North Pole.

This would make a very good story for your schools newspaper showing how directed thought and concentration can allow anyone to be successful in any endeavor that they may seek.

Also, you may use any photos from my web site, http://www.yellowairplane.com/North_Pole_2002/index.html for your needs. The attached photo is the one of me holding the WIU banner on the pole

Thank you very much,

C. Jeff Dyrek, webmaster http://www.yellowairplane.com

Jeffrey C. Dyrek News Release 285 Waco Rd. For Immediate Release Bushnell, IL. 61422 1-25-2003 309-772-9099 jeff@yellowairplane.com

WIU Student goes to the North Pole

At 2:15 P.M. April 29th, 2002, WIU Student, Jeffrey C. Dyrek stood on the North Pole holding a banner made by WIU’s Graphic Communication class. I am a Non-traditional student at WIU and I took the Graphic Communications Department banner to Moscow, then to Norilsk, and next to Khatanga, The latter two cities are in the far northern part of Siberia which endure extremely cold weather conditions for most of their year. Khatanga was the Arctic Launching Point for our expedition. Here we visited several of the interesting sites of Khatanga while the Russian aircraft crew prepared for the fourteen hundred mile flight to the North Pole. One of the best attractions in Khatanga is the Woolly Mammoth digs that have been repeatedly shown on PBS over the last two years. Several expedition members and I, additionally, met many of the Dolgan Indians and learned about their lifestyle in a Russian environment. Furthermore, we wandered around town talking to the Russian residents and attending the Russian Easter celebration which was held on May first. This is truly a super learning experience that any college student or professor would love to have experienced.

After taking a short Arctic survival course, we boarded the plane for Srednij island, which is part of the Severnaya Zemlya island group high in the Arctic Ocean. Srednij is a Russian military base which is inhabited all year round by about twenty five men. Being only seven hundred miles from the pole and half way from Khatanga to the pole, Srednij was the logical choice to be used as a refueling stop for the expedition. Here we stayed in a little, two story, building while the plane refueled and the crew examined the aircraft. The downstairs of the building was, only somewhat, heated so we had to remain fully clothed while we stayed there for the next twelve hours. During this period, Thomas Trautman, another expedition member, and I, took a walk to one of the other islands in this group. Remember, the ocean is covered with a cap of ice at this latitude in early spring.

After refueling, the plane and the expedition headed for Camp Borneo, an all ice airport just sixty miles from the geographical north pole. This airport must be reconstructed every year by the Russian crews. Because of the ice floes and temperature variations throughout the year, the airport can only exist from about April first to May fifteenth. By the fifteenth, the runway is already breaking up and becoming totally unusable, creating the need for the next years reconstruction and our immediate departure. Borneo is purposely placed about one degree from the actual pole so the skiers can ski the last degree to the pole, which is a popular attraction for our expedition.

The last leg from Camp Borneo to the geographical North Pole is made by using a Russian Mi-8 helicopter. The ride is fantastic and flying only about five hundred feet off of the ice gives everyone a close up view of how the pressure ridges and leads (large open water cracks in the ice) look and interact on the polar ice cap. Arriving at the pole is a great joy and accomplishment. The beautiful blue color of the ice provides us with an incredible vista. The idea of standing on the very top of the world and having the entire earth spinning below you, at this one spot, creates a feeling that you will never forget. Every direction you look, from this point, is South. Walking in a small circle enables a person to step into every longitudinal section of the planet earth within a few seconds. Standing on top of the world is truly a different experience.

As the members stand at the pole, they have the opportunity to drink champagne and experience the accomplishment of a lifetime as they watch the series of events unfold. The events include skydivers littering the air as they fall to the earth, or balloons which fill the sky with bright colors and sometimes, even scuba divers may chop a hole in the ice for a quick dip. Some expeditions have seen ultralight airplanes at the pole too. But on the 2003 Expedition, the star attraction will be the worlds first North Pole marathon and ultra-marathon race which will add another logbook entry to the historical events held on the pole.

On this expedition we visited Moscow, the Kremlin, Lenin’s tomb, the Kremlin Armory and Cathedrals, Star City (Russia’s NASA), the Woolly Mammoth Digs, a Dolgan Indian dance and celebration, the Siberian Tundra, an Arctic Ocean island which was a former Russian ICBM Base, the worlds most northern airfield, and at last, the North Pole.

We had twenty-six members on our expedition from thirteen countries. Of these members one man was a MiG-21 Pilot, a rocket scientist at Aerojet General, and a Professor at UCLA. A week before the expedition this same man flew a MiG-25 to the eighty-thousand feet and he then went with us to the North Pole. Two weeks later this man launched a rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base up over the North Pole, and just this last September, he swam the English Channel. Another expedition member was a bank president from Singapore, and during this last summer, he climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro. Still another member, Siamak Hatami, was the first Iranian to go to the North Pole, and since I was the man who enabled him to go there, both him and I were featured on Iranian National Television and in their Newspapers. One additional member was a neural network scientist, and also a lady on this expedition, was a Mag Lev Train design engineer. This list goes on and on, but I’m sure everyone gets the picture. These are the kinds of people that we met on arctic expeditions, which to me, was the greatest part of the entire trip.

But this isn’t just a story about the North Pole expedition, it’s a story of how a disabled college student was able to go to the North Pole in the first place. I’ve been disabled since June of 1977 when I fell two-hundred feet and landed on the rocks below during a hike in the Sequoia National Forrest. From this moment on, my life has been totally changed. Being ill for eleven years, but still working as an Avionics Technician and then Automated Test Programmer, I finally was unable to work and was placed on full disability retirement. My disability insurance took nine months to pay me my first paycheck, which, along with the high medical bills that accumulated and a large mortgage, caused me to lose my house, my car and just about everything that I owned, which forced me into bankruptcy. After coming back to Illinois, as an attempt to re-socialize myself, I started attending classes at Western Illinois University in the Industrial Technology Department. In my Junior year at Western, the light effort of walking from class to class and sitting at my desk caused me
so much pain that I had to stop attending classes altogether. After that time, I could do nothing but lay back with my feet elevated above my waist. This was my life’s new body position. Anytime I sat up for as little as twenty minutes, as required to work at a desk, I would become very ill and filled with severe abdominal pain that would last up to a week or more. This is why I created my web site, YellowAirplane.com. Even though my body was broken, my mind wouldn’t sit still and I had to do something, so I started my Yellow Airplane web site.

One day a man sent me an email asking if he could sell his North Pole expeditions on my web site. I said to myself, “North Pole Expeditions! This sounds great! I want to go the North Pole myself!” I then applied a tremendous effort into sending people to the North Pole by use of my web site. After two years of sending other people to the pole, I finally realized that on every part of the expedition people were either leaning way back in some airplane seat or laying on top of some kind of equipment in an airplane cargo bay. During the expedition of 2001, a man in a wheel chair went to the pole, and I noticed, that he didn’t have any problems whatsoever. After learning this fact, it felt like there external pressure that grabbed me and made me work, with all the energy that I had, to be able to go to the North Pole myself. “If a man in a wheel chair can do it, I can do it too,” I said to myself!

Finally, before I knew it, the money I needed for the trip started arriving from everywhere. I found several sponsors to help fund trip, but the amount of their sponsorships were not enough. Since I studied about the trip for such a long time in the effort of its promotion, I was hired as a tour guide by GE Adventures, which lowered my trip cost, but still, that did not create enough money to pay for my passage. I finally sold my motorcycle and still had to borrow thirty-five hundred dollars to afford the trip and provide a little spending money. But it all happened, and I was off for the trip of a lifetime. The interesting thing about this trip was that I have been disabled for a total of twenty-five years, and at this point, my life has been changed for the better, because of the expedition.

For the entire expedition I was in a lot of pain. I just never felt good because of the problems in my abdomen and the fact that I caught the flu just three days before my departure. After leaving the pole and returning to Moscow from Khatanga, I sat in the only row of seats, in the entire plane, that wouldn’t lean back. Unfortunately, but fortunately at the same time as you will soon find out, this row of seats was in the exact position that caused me the most pain. The plane was filled with people who were returning from their two month ski expeditions to the pole, which left them very exhausted and covered with frostbite. No-one on the plane was in a good mood. There was no way that I could just get up and ask someone move to make me more comfortable, because these were some pretty rough looking guys and they were pretty uncomfortable themselves. I had to just sit there and chill out, as they say. After about ten hours into the flight, and suffering badly, the pain in my abdomen miraculously started to go away and has never returned since. My abdominal pain was actually caused by an adhesion that formed after I had a diaphragm and hernia repair, which was performed many years before. But, because of the rigors of the trip, the adhesion broke and I’m now feeling much better and I am now, almost, not disabled.

However, there’s more to the story than all that. Going to the North Pole, in my case, is not just pulling out some cash and jumping on an airplane. It’s part of a struggle to change my life in an effort to make it better in all aspects by spending years of listening to positive thinking and motivational tapes. I have listened to over a hundred tapes, more than a hundred times each. If someone thinks that a goal is impossible, they are on the wrong road to success. If being cool is the most important part of your life, you’ve never been really cool, until you’ve been to the North Pole. To quote a famous motivational speaker, Napoleon Hill, “Anything a man can conceive and believe, he can achieve.” Or to summarize a talk by Ron Ein on his tape “Peak to Peak” you cannot even see the next peak until you are near the peak you are trying to climb. The point here is, if you ever plan to be successful, you must put the effort forth to climb the peak directly in front of you, in a step by step manner, without ever letting other factors pull you off your course. It’s like putting brick into a building. You must build the lower, foundation, first, before you can see the next peak of success. By the way, going to college and working hard to get good, is the best foundation builder anyone can experience.

What’s the significance for college students? If a poor broken down forty-eight year old man, like me, can go to the North Pole, you can too! If I can do it, you can do it! And this idea goes for all aspects of a persons life, if you want it to be, you have to apply the effort, and then, you can stand on top of the world.

This trip is filled with tremendous learning experiences and travel study opportunities, and everyone is invited to join me on the 2003 Expedition. You can see more about the 2002 and 2003 Expeditions by going to http://www.yellowairplane.com and pressing any link that says North Pole.