The Story About Pilot Piotr Alexandrovich and Getting an A in Geography
How Kolya encountered a dragon

Kolya Trofimov was having a bad day, again. His geography class ruined everything.

"Who would like to tell us about the climate of the Amazon River?" the teacher looked at his small class at Vershinino School.

Kolya tucked his head and tried to blend into his desk. It didn't help.

"Trofimov, will you take the pointer and go up to the blackboard? Show us on the map where the Amazon is."

The question gave Kolya goosebumps. His legs weak as water, he heard his classmates giggle as he was poking around for the Amazon.

"All right," the teacher gave a sigh. "If you don't know anything about the Amazon, then maybe you can tell us about the water body in your home area?"

The teacher glanced at the window:

"Lake Kenozero. What do you know about it? It would be a shame not to know your native surroundings."

"The Kenozero... The physical and geographical descriptions of the Kenozero..." Kolya couldn't stop his voice from shaking.

It was a huge embarrassment. It was a shame.

In the evening, standing on a high, wide hill, Kolya looked at the village of Vershinino and Lake Kenozero, replaying that unhappy day full of resentments in his mind. He felt so bitter.

"If only Dad returned from the war. He would have stood up for me. Ivanov's father is like that. He returned an officer. A tall brave man he is," he sighed.

Kolya was so lost in his thoughts that he did not hear the rattling sound in the sky above him. A small battered aircraft landed on the flat terrain next to him. By the time he noticed it, the pilot – a short man in overalls and grummet – had got out of the cockpit and lit a cigarette. His sinewy hands were smeared black.

"Hey, buddy, got a knife?" the pilot asked matter-of-factly. Sure… You bet. Kolya's knife had a very sharp blade. He got it from his dad and it was special to him.

"Where did you get it from?" asked the pilot. He liked the knife.

"From my dad. He died in war. The knife is now mine."

The pilot disappeared into the cockpit to come back in about five minutes, satisfied, and gave Kolya his knife back.

"My name is Piotr Alexandrovich. What's yours?"


"Come on, Kolya, tell me why you are here all alone on this high hill."

Even though he and Piotr Alexandrovich were total strangers, Kolya told him everything. About the geography lesson and how embarrassed he felt.

"Wait. How come you don't know anything about your lake?" "I do," Kolya said indignantly. "I know a lot about it."

"Then tell me."

"The Kenozero is unique in terms of size, shape, and depth. It takes up nearly 70 square kilometers, and its winding shores stretch for 350 kilometers. The total area of the Kenozero, inclusive of its islands, is 99.4 square kilometers.

This lake is bigger than the Lacha, even bigger than the Kozhozero, which are two very big lakes, Piotr Alexandrovich. It is 70 meters at its deepest point, but the fishermen say the water depth measures even deeper. The Kenozero is underlain by old rocks that stretch from the west. These are Archeozoic rocks. They are 2.5 billion years old! There had formed a crust fracture after the Eastern European Platform had subsided. The Kenozero Lake is more than 10,000 years old and it is still evolving."

"Good job! Why didn't you tell it all in class?"

Kolya blushed and turned away.

"Please don't think that I'm a coward, Piotr Alexandrovich.

"I don't, Kolya. I don't think you are," the pilot said seriously. "Come on, get into the cockpit."

The invitation sounded a little scary, even though Kolya, like every post-war boy, dreamed to become a pilot (Piotr Alexandrovich guessed correctly, eh?). He leaped into the cockpit. The aircraft made a U-turn and started to taxi down the field, its engine roaring. And then ...

"…and then Piotr Alexandrovich gave me a helmet and I helped him wipe the glass," Kolya told his gathering classmates on the following day. "He even let me hold the steering wheel when we climbed high enough to fly over the Kenozero." He exaggerated a bit, of course. Well, he did hold the wheel, but it was after they had landed.

"You wouldn't believe how stunningly beautiful our place is, guys. Wow! The endless forests around the Kenozero, the villages – I had them in the palm of my hand – the birds, the women washing their linen, the men mending boats in Zekhnova. Takes your breath away! What a big lake the Kenozero is. Want to know what it's shaped like?"

"Tell us," Kolya's friend Sanka said, between gritted teeth, full of curiosity.

"It's shaped like a dragon. The blue dragon with sunlit sparks of gold, flying amid the forests. No joke…"

The boys looked at Kolya with respect. He was the first in the class to board a real plane, hold the wheel, and see the dragon-shaped Kenozero from high above. He was a hero!