From 1918 to 1925, he was a telegraph and radio operator as well as mechanic on the polar ship Maud, led by Roald Amundsen. In 1926, Olonkin took part in the first part of the Amundsen-Ellsworth 1926 Transpolar Flight with the airship Norge from Rome to Svalbard providing radio contact with the different ground control stations.
In 1926 he was honored as a Knight of the Order of St. Olav. Olonkin acquired Norwegian citizenship and worked at the Norwegian Meteorological Institute. He served on Jan Mayen in the years 1928–1929, 1930–1931, 1933–1934, and 1935–1936. From 1958 he worked in conjunction with an expansion of a LORAN station (NATO) on Jan Mayen.
- "Gennadij Olonkin (1898-1960)". The Fram Museum. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
- "Gennadij Olonkin". Norsk Polar History. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
- Amundsen, Roald. Nordostpassagen. Gyldendal, 1921 (in Norwegian)
- "The Maud Expedition (1918-1925)". The Fram Museum. Retrieved May 1, 2017.
- Barr, Susan. Jan Mayen, Norges utpost i vest gjennom 1500 år. Schibsted, 1991 (in Norwegian)