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News / Clark County News

Pearson Air Museum to celebrate historic flights

By Tom Vogt, Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter
Published: June 17, 2018, 6:15am

Pearson Air Museum will celebrate two flying milestones in the next few days — events that show how the scale of aviation challenges advanced in the span of 25 years.

In 1912, Silas Christofferson flew over the Columbia River. In 1937, Valery Chkalov flew over the North Pole. Both pilots landed in Vancouver: Christofferson after a flight of about 10 miles, and Chkalov (with two fellow airmen) after a flight of more than 5,000 miles.

Pearson Air Museum will commemorate the 1912 flight with the grand opening of a new exhibit featuring the Curtiss Pusher biplane at 1 p.m. Saturday in the museum. The biplane is a full-scale version, with a wing span of about 44 feet.

More than a dozen National Park Service volunteers have spent almost two years recreating the aircraft designed by Glenn Curtiss.

If You Go

What: Curtiss Pusher display.

When: 1 p.m. Saturday.


What: Chkalov flight commemoration.

When: 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.

Where: Pearson Air Museum, 1115 E. Fifth St., Vancouver.

In their workshop at Fort Vancouver National Historic Site, they used “the same materials and techniques that Silas Christofferson would have used in 1912,” Bob Cromwell, museum manager, said in a news release.

Christofferson flew his airplane from the rooftop of the 13-story Multnomah Hotel on June 12, 1912, to kick off the first Rose Festival Parade in downtown Portland. He landed at the Vancouver Barracks polo grounds, which is now Pearson Field.

Chkalov’s arrival at Pearson Field on June 20, 1937, capped the first flight over the North Pole. A public commemoration of the 63-hour endurance test will include a wreath laying at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday at the outdoor Chkalov monument on the west side of the museum.

Pearson Air Museum also has an exhibit — A Red Bolt From the Blue — on the Chkalov flight.

Columbian Science, Military & History Reporter