National Park Service celebrates Russian-American aviation achievement at Pearson Air Museum

VANCOUVER — Area residents are invited to join the National Park Service, representatives from the Russian Consulate in Seattle, and others at Pearson Air Museum at 10 a.m. Sat., June 24, for a special program celebrating the 80th anniversary of Valery Chkalov’s landmark transpolar flight from Moscow, Russia, to Pearson Field, and its significance to the Clark County community.

Chkalov, along with co-pilot Georgi Baidukov and navigator Alexander Belyakov, landed at Pearson Field on the morning of June 20, 1937. Their flight from Moscow and over the North Pole, the first of its kind, had lasted 63 hours and 16 minutes.

Area residents are invited to attend an event Pearson Air Museum for a special program celebrating the 80th anniversary of Valery Chkalov's landmark transpolar flight from Moscow, Russia, to Pearson Field. Photo by Mike Schultz
Area residents are invited to attend an event Pearson Air Museum for a special program celebrating the 80th anniversary of Valery Chkalov’s landmark transpolar flight from Moscow, Russia, to Pearson Field. Photo by Mike Schultz

“This year is especially important, because we are honoring the 80th anniversary of this historic flight,” said Fort Vancouver National Historic Site’s Chief of Interpretation Bob Cromwell. “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.”

WHAT: “From Moscow to Russia: Valery Chkalov and the First Transpolar Flight,” a public event honoring the 80th anniversary of this historic flight

WHEN: Saturday, June 24, 2017, 10 am

WHERE: Pearson Air Museum, 1115, E. Fifth Street, Vancouver, WA 98661

COST: Free

The program will include music provided by the Vancouver Community Concert Band, brief remarks, a wreath laying ceremony at the memorial to the flight located adjacent to the air museum, and a reception with complimentary refreshments. Visitors are also invited to tour “A RED BOLT FROM THE BLUE,” a recently-opened exhibit that highlights the history of the transpolar flight.

In honor of the 80th anniversary of the flight, a selection of paintings featuring Chkalovsk, Russia – birthplace and namesake of Valery Chkalov – will be featured in the Friends of Fort Vancouver Bookstore at the Fort Vancouver Visitor Center. The paintings are the work of Russian artists who live in the Chkalovsk region.

Chkalovsk lies on the Volga River in the Nizhni Novgorod province. Founded in 1200 AD as Vasilova Sloboda, the community was renamed for its local hero after the 1937 flight. An artist colony evolved there after World War II and beginning in 1992, some of their paintings have been released to private collectors. The exhibit is free, and will be on display through early July. The Bookstore will also feature for sale books about the flight, aviation pins, and hand-painted jewelry, toys, and “Matryoshka” nesting dolls from Russia.

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