Their journey across the roof of the world also marked the first flight over the North Pole.
Yuri Gerasin, the Russian consul general based in Seattle, said he was 10 years old when he learned about Vancouver’s place in his nation’s history.
“This event was very well- known,” Gerasin said.
It was a heroic deed, the consul general said, but it also served “as a symbol of the desire to have good relations” between the two countries.
Mayor Tim Leavitt noted that Vancouver’s name familiarity in Russia has “had lasting significance to the city.” It was a factor, Leavitt said, in many immigrants from Russia and Ukraine choosing Vancouver as their new home.
Had things turned out slightly differently, the U.S. destination for those folks might have been San Francisco, Portland or Medford, Ore.
“If they had an opportunity to fly over or land at a military field, they could collect a little intelligence,” Alley said.
As Petcoff recalls the event, the U.S. Army’s response to the unexpected landing was a mixture of military authority and a little bit of hastiness.
“I can recall seeing Gen. George Marshall,” who rushed down to greet the Russians, Petcoff said. “I remember seeing he had his topcoat on over his pajamas.”
Tom Vogt: 360-735-4558; http://www.twitter.com/col_history; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Valery Chkalov died in a crash while test-piloting a plane in 1938.