NPS Celebrates Legacy of Russian-American Aviation at Pearson Air Museum

Historic photo of the Soviet ANT-25 aircraft piloted by Valery Chkalov at rest on Pearson Field, Vancouver Barracks, in June 1937.
Historic photo of the Soviet ANT-25 aircraft piloted by Valery Chkalov at rest on Pearson Field, Vancouver Barracks, in June 1937.

Archives & Reference Collection, Fort Vancouver NHS


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Date: June 3, 2014
Contact: Luda Leksunkin, Park Guide, 360-816-6233
Contact: Aaron Ochoa, Park Ranger, 360-816-6233

NPS Celebrates Russian-American Aviation at Pearson Air Museum

WHO: National Park Service, Fort Vancouver National Historic Site

WHAT: "Valery Chkalov: From Moscow to Pearson" Program celebrating the world's first non-stop transpolar flight.

WHEN: Saturday June 21, 2014, 10:30 am

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

COST: Free

Join the National Park Service and friends at Pearson Air Museum at 10:30 am on Saturday, June 21for a special program celebrating the 77th anniversary of Valery Chkalov's landmark transpolar flight from Moscow, Russia to Pearson Field and its significance to our community.

The program will include a talk, vignette, and music, along with artifacts on display from the historic flight. A twenty-piece group from the Vancouver Community Concert Band, under the direction of Dr. Jim Rourk, will provide music from the era. The talk will be presented by Luda Leksunkin, a bilingual Russian-American park guide with the National Park Service at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site.

"I've been passionate about Chkalov's story since I began volunteering in this park six years ago," said Leksunkin. "Chkalov's character, leadership, and unprecedented skill and precision were integral to his aviation accomplishments. His feats are relevant to all Russians and Americans, but are especially important to me and to this community, because his flight–the first flight across the North Pole–landed right here at Pearson Field in 1937, on land that is today a national park. When General George C. Marshall welcomed Chkalov and his crew with open arms, he united the US and USSR, showing the world that working together is possible."

As the National Park Service nears its centennial in 1916, it continues to be relevant to the communities it serves and accurate to the stories it preserves. "Offering a wide variety of interpretive programs is a way of making sure all community members are welcome and included in this national park," said Park Ranger Aaron Ochoa. "Fort Vancouver is everyone's national park."

"There are many historical ties between this site and Russia," said Tracy Fortmann, superintendent, "from Fort Vancouver's partnership with the Russian American Company in the fur trade era, to the two Soviet flights that landed at Pearson Field and beyond. The Chkalov flight, particularly, established a lasting connection between the United States and Russia, and we are pleased to host this program that highlights this groundbreaking event."

Last updated: February 28, 2015

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