Russian visitors, old and new

Chkalov anniversary to be feted; ambassador to give Marshall Lecture

By Tom Vogt, Columbian science, military & history reporter



An event Friday honoring the 75th anniversary of the historic Chkalov flight doubled as the opportunity to announce another distinguished Russian visitor.

Sergey I. Kislyak, ambassador to the United States, will deliver the annual Marshall Lecture at 11 a.m. April 19 at Hudson’s Bay High School.

If you go

• What: 2012 Marshall Lecture

• Who: Sergey I. Kislyak, Russian ambassador to the U.S.

• When: 11 a.m., Thursday, April 19

• Where: Hudson’s Bay High School, 1206 E. Reserve St.

• Cost: Free and open to the public

Kislyak’s appearance is timely, said Elson Strahan, president and CEO of the Fort Vancouver National Trust. With the recent Russian presidential election and Russia’s impending entry into the World Trade Organization, Kislyak is an appropriate choice to deliver the 2012 Marshall Lecture, Strahan said.

Strahan added that Kislyak is a suitable choice for reasons local as well as global, with the approach of the 75th anniversary of the transpolar flight from Russia to Vancouver.

The announcement was part of an event at the Marshall House, where Gen. George C. Marshall hosted three Russian aviators in June 1937 after their 63-hour, 5,288-mile nonstop flight over the North Pole to Pearson Field.

And speaking of global …

Valery Chkalov, namesake and grandson of the ANT-25 pilot, and his son Igor helped unveil another product of the historic flight. The family has been part of an effort to make a dozen replicas of a globe Chkalov and a crew mate autographed in 1937.

The globe, which is owned by the American Geographical Society in Brooklyn, N.Y., represents an exploration hall of fame. Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, Roald Amundsen, John Glenn and Neil Armstrong are among about 80 names on what the society calls its Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe.

The American Geographical Society will send the original globe to Vancouver for the 75th anniversary of the transpolar flight in June.

The anniversary’s keynote event will be a June 20 celebration at Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St. The ceremony at 8:22 a.m. -- marking the time when Chkalov, Georgy Baidukov and Alexander Belyakov landed -- will include a wreath-laying.

‘Courageous Wings’

Events as part of the “Courageous Wings: 1937-2012” series in Vancouver:

• March 28 display of rare archive photographs of Chkalov, from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at the Aurora Gallery, 1004 Main St.

• April 19 Marshall Lecture honoring Gen. George C. Marshall, who served at Vancouver Barracks as commander of the 5th Infantry Brigade from 1936 to 1938.

Strahan said that the 2012 speaker “has had an incredible public service career over many decades.”

Kislyak was appointed ambassador to the United States in September 2008. Previously, he served as Russia’s deputy minister of foreign affairs, and had simultaneous posts as ambassador to Belgium and Russia’s permanent representative to NATO in Belgium.

During the 1980s, he served in a USSR embassy post in Washington, D.C. and in the USSR’s permanent mission to the United Nations in New York. He graduated from the Moscow Engineering Physics Institute in 1973 and from the USSR Academy of Foreign Trade in 1977.

• April 26-30 visit by five Russian military dignitaries. It will commemorate the meeting of American forces and the Red Army at the Elbe River in Germany on April 25, 1945. The scheduled guests include Vladimir Michalkin, a World War II artillery marshal.

Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558;;