Jetrader - Fall 2014 - (Page 47)

aviation history The Russians Are Here! By Jack Feir, Administrative Director, ISTAT Appraisers' Program A Wake-Up Call from Moscow Early on a Sunday morning in June 1937, a large, single-engine aircraft with an enormous wingspan appeared in the foggy sky near Portland, Oregon. Flying low, following the Columbia River inland from the Pacific Ocean, the aircraft landed on the grass runway at Pearson Field, a military base near Vancouver, Washington, on the north side of the river from Portland. It taxied toward the airfield offices, the engine was switched off, and three very tired Russian airmen slowly disembarked. The aircraft was a Tupolev ANT-25, a special long-range aircraft by one of Russia's most accomplished designers, Andrei N. Tupolev. Fully loaded, the ANT-25 weighed about 25,000 pounds, one-half of which was 2,000 gallons of gasoline stored in several tanks built into the huge wings. The aircraft had departed Moscow about two and a half days earlier, passed over the North Pole, then over Canada's Northwest Territories, across British Columbia and down the Pacific coast, intending to reach Oakland, California, for a total nonstop distance of nearly 6,000 miles. With fuel running dangerously low, the pilots were forced to land and chose Pearson Field at the last moment. What Was the Purpose of the Flight? Joseph Stalin wanted to show that the USSR had mastered the technology required to design and manufacture one of the most sophisticated aircraft of the time. Also, as explicitly stated in Pravda, official organ of the Soviet Communist Party, the Soviets wanted the world to know the USSR would soon have long-range bombers that could reach any city in the northern hemisphere. How nice! To show this flight was not a lucky fluke, one month later another ANT-25 left Moscow and landed in an open field near San Jacinto, California, not far from Los Angeles, capturing by a wide margin the world record for flight distance. The first of two Tupolev ANT-25 aircraft that flew non-stop from Moscow to the United States in 1937. This one landed at Pearson Field in Vancouver, Washington, near Portland, Oregon, in June 1937. The second one landed near San Jacinto, California, in July, capturing the world record for longest distance flown. San Diego Air and Space Museum archives. The First Flight, A Nail-Biter from the Start Tupolev ANT-25 in flight. San Diego Air and Space Museum archives. The three-man crew, hand-picked by Stalin, had taken off early in the morning of 17 June 1937, departing from the Sholkovo Aerodrome, about 25 miles northeast of Moscow. After a long ground roll, they lifted off, cranked up the landing gear, climbed to 6,500 feet and headed to the North Pole, some 2,350 miles away. The ANT-25 was essentially a very large powered glider with an economical cruising speed of only 100 mph. Depending on the winds, it would take about a day to get to the Pole, another day to reach the mainland of northern Canada, and could reach Continued on page 49 Jetrader  *  Fall 2014 47

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Jetrader - Fall 2014

A Message from the President
Reach for the Stars
Beauty Contest
Boeing’s Current Market Outlook for 2014
Aircraft Recyclers Debate the Coming ‘Tsunami’ of Retired Aircraft
Engine Support Plans Shift Market
The Second Life of Aircraft: Does It Still Exist?
Restructuring Aircraft Leases in Bankruptcy
Aviation History
Aircraft Appraisals
ISTAT Foundation
Advertiser Index

Jetrader - Fall 2014