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#OnThisDay in 1937, the first Russia-US non-stop transpolar flight took off from Moscow. “If we are the first to establish an air link over the pole between the Old World and the new, it will be a record, but we are not primarily seeking records."
- Valery Chkalov, June 17, 1937
The pilot was Soviet celebrity Valery Chkalov, the most famous of “Stalin’s Falcons”. Chkalov was a son of a Volga boatman and a daring pilot.
The aircraft, ANT-25 was designed by the genius Andrei Nikolayevich Tupolev. Revolutionary design, included the fuel tanks in the wings for the first time. The proportion of wings to the fuselage resembled a glider, allowing the plane to fly huge distances without refuelling.
The single engine was very fuel-efficient, but the speed was slow. It was extremely uncomfortable for the crew as there no heating or oxygen in the cabin. As the plane lost weight burning fuel, it rose, making it colder. There was no navigational aid.
The flight took 63 h 16 min. The aircraft flew over 9,130 kilometers, landing in Pearson Field, Vancouver, USA on 20 June 1937.
#OnThisDay in 1937, three Russian fliers landed in Vancouver, USA. Pilot Valery Chkalov, co-pilot Georgi Baidukov and navigator Alexander Belyakov have just completed the first-ever trans-polar flight from Moscow to America. It took 63 hours and 16 minutes.
The amazing feat of heroic pilots captured public imagination. The world descended on Vancouver’s Pearson Field where the plane landed.
George C. Marshall, later US Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense, was the host: “The three weary fliers, unable to speak English, were met at the plane by a Russian-speaking Reserve officer and taken to Marshall’s house for baths, breakfast, and sleep.”
President Roosevelt congratulated the heroic airmen:
Heroic Russian airmen were given a warm American welcome...
...and were given a reception at the White House
Flying in the 1930s was extremely tough and dangerous. Amelia Earhart disappeared over the Pacific Ocean on July 2, 1937.
Aviators were real heroes, and were celebrated as such. Pictured: Russian airmen Valery Chkalov, Georgy Baidukov, Alexander Belyakov June 1937, USA.
“The incredible journey made by Chkalov, Baidukov and Belyakov was more than just a feat of human endurance and a technological achievement; it was a major moment in U.S.-Russian relations before the Second World War.” Bob Cromwell, Pearson Air Museum
Aviator Chkalov was my childhood hero.
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