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Archives at The Museum of Flight

Russian Transpolar Flight Collection

Identifier: 2012-12-23
The Russian Transpolar Flight Collection primarily documents the June 1937 transpolar flight by Russian aviators Valery Chkalov, Georgii Baidukov, and Alexander Belyakov with photographs, clippings, audio-visual materials, and various textual materials. It also features a small amount of material about the July 1937 transpolar flight by Russian aviators Mikhail Gromov, Sergei Danilin, and Andrei Yumashev, as well as general Russia-related research materials. The materials are grouped by subject, arranged roughly in chronological order. The bulk of the collection is commemorative in nature, rather than from the actual events. Some materials are in Russian, the majority of material is in English.

Series I, Soviet Transpolar Flight of June 1937, contains twenty-seven (27) black-and-white photographs, including one (1) large photograph of the Tupolev ANT-25, from the June 20, 1937 landing at Pearson Field, Vancouver, Washington. Most of these photographs were taken by Leverett Richards and do not include any captions. Though these images were taken the day of the landing, the photographs are modern prints. The images depict the Tupolev ANT-25 parked in Pearson Field and in the air, various shots of the crowds, and one snapshot of Valery Chkalov speaking with a small group of unidentified men. The series then moves on to various celebratory and commemorative materials, from June 30, 1937 through June 21, 2012. Highlights include the 50th, 60th, and 75th anniversaries. Materials include clippings and articles, slides and photographs, audio-visual materials, and assorted printed ephemera, such as a poster, postcards, and programs from various anniversary events.

Series II, Soviet Transpolar Flight of July 1937, documents the second landing in San Jacinto, California, three weeks later on July 14, 1937 with a photocopied scrapbook compiled by Leland Barker, and a small amount of 50th Anniversary materials, including an exhibit leaflet and three (3) color photographs and their negatives of paintings, possibly done by Yumashev. Additionally there is a black-and-white photograph of the Tupolev ANT-25 at the World's Fair in New York in 1939. Though the images were taken in 1939, the photographs are modern prints. There is also a small amount of research materials which focuses on the Russian pilots Valery Chkalov, Mikhail Gromov, and Sigizmund Levanevsky. These materials were reproduced from the National Archives.

Series III, Russia-related research materials, is comprised of various research materials about flying suits, aviation in general, and historical events of 1937, apparently compiled by Mary Rose. Materials include various articles, two booklets, a VHS tape labeled "Mary Rose -- Russ[ia] Stuff" as well as assorted printed ephemera about Russia, a map of the eastern U.S.S.R, and a framed piece of cloth commemorating the Apollo-Soyuz project with signatures of the 5-man crew. There are also six (6) black-and-white photographs; one depicts Jimmie Mattern, an aviator who tried to break the world record for aerial circumnavigation in the 1930s, next to an aircraft. The remaining five (5) are possibly snapshots of General Marshall's driver at Pearson Field and his wife, per donor information.


  • 1937-2012


Language of Materials

Some materials are in Russian and the rest of the collection is in English.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research and is accessible in the Dahlberg Research Center by appointment. For more information contact us.

Conditions Governing Use

The Museum of Flight (TMOF) Archives is the owner of the physical materials in the archives and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from TMOF archives before any publication use. TMOF does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.


2.15 Cubic Feet (2 full-width legal size document boxes and 1 large flat box)


The Russian Transpolar Flight Collection primarily documents the June 1937 transpolar flight by Russian aviators Valery Chkalov, Georgii Baidukov, and V. Belydakov with photographs, clippings, audio-visual materials, and various textual materials. It also features a small amount of material about the July 1937 transpolar flight by Russian aviators M. Gromov, Sergei Danilin, and Andrei Yumashev, as well as general Russia-related research materials.

Historical Note: Soviet Transpolar Flight

The Soviet Transpolar Flight of June 1937 was the first non-stop flight between the U.S.S.R (Russia) and the United States. Charles Lindbergh's solo flight from New York to Paris in 1927 inspired others to set inter-continental flight records, and a transpolar flight goal was held by many. Soviet aviator Sigismund Levanevsky was determined to beat American aviator Wiley Post to the record of a flight between Soviet Russia and the United States over the Arctic. Post's dream was cut short when he died in a crash in Alaska in August, 1935. Levanevsky made an attempt in July of that year in a Tupolev ANT-25 but had to turn back after 300 miles due to an oil leak and determined a four-engine plane would be required for the flight.

Later, another Russian aviator, Valeri Chkalov, determined he could make the flight in the Tupolev ANT-25 along with Georgi Baidukov as co-pilot and Vassilyevich Belyakov as navigator. It took him two years and a record-setting flight across Siberia to convince Soviet government officials that he could make the transpolar flight. The ANT-25 had been specially designed by Andrei N. Tupolev for setting a distance record. With a short fuselage and 110-foot long, thin and narrow wings, it was designed like a sailplane to reduce drag. It was meant to fly at slow speeds, about 120 miles an hour, to conserve fuel and had of ceiling of about 18,000 feet. The plane used for the the record-setting flight was fitted with a sun compass since a magnetic one would be useless at the pole, and all unnecessary weight was removed from the plane, including the brakes.

The flight departed at 5:04 a.m. from Moscow on June 17, 1937 with a destination of Oakland, California. Belyakov reported that they were over the North Pole at 9:10 p.m. on June 18th. After that they hit massive storms but couldn't rise above the clouds. Baidukov took over the controls. The crew needed oxygen, but their tanks were low. They continued to encounter problems--winds forced them to change course, the engine overheated, their drinking water froze, their radios became inoperable, the crew got nosebleeds from the high altitude.

At 7:30 a.m. on June 20th they passed over Portland, Oregon and Vancouver, Washington. They headed further south but when they were near Eugene, Oregon they realized they were running low on fuel and needed to land. They turned back toward Portland and decided to land at Pearson Field in Vancouver. After 63 hours and 16 minutes flying they had completed their transpolar flight. Immediately they were dubbed the "Lindberghs of the North." The next day the three men received a 19-gun salute and a parade and luncheon in Portland for their accomplishment. The city's Meier & Frank department store fitted the men with new suits, and put their fur coats on display. Then the men continued on a triumphal tour of the country, including a stop in San Francisco, a ticker tape parade in New York and a visit to the White House to meet President Franklin Roosevelt, before heading back home via France where they received more accolades.

Chkalov died in a test flight accident in 1938. Belyakov later worked as a professor in the Soviet Air Force Academy, retiring in 1960. He died in 1982. Baidukov continued to serve in the Soviet Air Force, retiring in 1988 at the rank of General Colonel. He died in 1994.

A monument was erected at Pearson Field to commemorate the first non-stop flight between the U.S.S.R. and the U.S. on June 20, 1975. Baidukov and Balyakov both attended the event. That year was also the City of Vancouver's sesquicentennial.

Just a short time after, on July 14, 1937, another trio of Russian aviators, pilot Mikhail Gromov, co-pilot Andrei Yumashev, and navigator Sergei Danilin, made the second successful transpolar flight from Moscow, Russia by landing in a farmer's field in what is now San Jacinto, California. The aviators also flew in a Tupolev ANT-25 and had intended to land in San Diego, but redirected due to fog conditions.


Historical information derived from collection materials and various online sources.
Biographical Note: Mary Kline Rose Mary Kline Rose is a historian and writer from Vancouver, Washington. Rose has been associated with many museums and non-profits groups, including the Chkalov Cultural Exchange Committee and Pearson Air Museum.

No further information is known.


Biography derived from collection materials.

Immediate Source of Acquistion

The Russian Transpolar Flight Collection was donated to The Museum of Flight by Compass Rose Corporation, via Mary Kline Rose.

Related Archival Materials at The Museum of Flight

The Russian Aviation Collection (accession 2018-00-00/4) documents 20th century Soviet and Russian aviators and aviation accomplishments, including the Soviet Transpolar Flight of 1937 as well as the Douglas World Cruisers of 1924, with photographs, clippings, articles, and photographic reproductions of various textual materials.

The Jim McGill Tupolev ANT-25 at Pearson Field Photographs (accession 2011-05-11) consist of eight (8) black-and-white prints and eight (8) corresponding negatives documenting the landing of the Soviet Tupolev ANT-25 at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington after the first Transpolar Flight in June 1937.
Related Archival Materials at Other Institutions Additional information on the Transpolar flight is available at the Pearson Air Museum at Fort Vancouver Historical Site and online at

A museum dedicated to Valery Chkalov is in Chkalovsk, Russia.

Separated Materials

The following monographs have been removed from the archival component and are kept in the Library:

  • George C. Marshall 1880-1939 (Vol.1)
  • Aeroflot
  • Great Aviators and Epic Flights
  • V.P. Chkalov
  • Chkalov (two copies, 1 in Russian, 1 in English)
  • Elephant's Don't Smoke by Leverett Richards
  • A Century Airborne by Jon Walker
  • [After Chkalov?], 1980 (in Russian)
  • Chkalov Secrets from Stalin's Archives
  • Soviet Air Force Since 1918
  • General George C. Marshall
  • The Log Books
  • Processing Information

    The photographs in Folders 16-17 were originally in albums but have been removed for preservation reasons. The original order was maintained.


    Guide to the Russian Transpolar Flight Collection
    Completed - Level 3
    J. Parent
    Description rules
    Language of description
    Edition statement
    1st Edition

    Revision Statements

    • November 2018: Finding aid migrated to ArchivesSpace.

    Repository Details

    Part of the The Museum of Flight Archives Repository

    9404 East Marginal Way South
    Seattle Washington 98108-4097

    The Museum of Flight | 9404 E. Marginal Way South | Seattle WA 98108-4097 | 206-764-5874
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