Submitted by: BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation
The BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation, a United States 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, and the City of Krasnoyarsk, Russia have committed to jointly facilitate the implementation of a project known as ALSIB 2020. This will be a re-creation of the World War II / Great Patriotic War flights from the United States using the historic Alaska-Siberia Air Route (ALSIB), known in Russia as the Krasnoyarsk Air Route (Alaska-Siberia). From Krasnoyarsk, the flight will proceed around the world, returning to the United States through Europe. As part of the 75th anniversary celebrations in 2020, this “friendship flight” will be used to draw attention to our allied cooperation and accomplishments from the war years and tell the history of this little known, yet critically important air route.
The ALSIB was created as part of the Lend-Lease Act, conceived by the Roosevelt Administration in 1941. Approximately 6,000 miles long, it stretches from Great Falls, Montana through western Canada to Fairbanks, Alaska and then across Siberia to Krasnoyarsk, Russia. During a three year period from 1942 through 1945, nearly 8,000 military aircraft were flown year round from the United States to the former Soviet Union using this route. Created practically from scratch in sparsely populated areas, and faced with challenging geographic, economic and meteorological conditions during the very difficult first few years of the war, it is considered, even today, an engineering feat second only to the creation of the Panama Canal.
Krasnoyarsk was chosen as the final and most important point for the ferrying effort since it was the most developed in 1941, especially its aviation infrastructure. It was also the center for the creation and development of polar aviation with facilities for training personnel, receiving, servicing, repairing and forwarding these huge numbers of aircraft to the fighting front.
Jeff Geer, president and chairman of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation said of the agreement, “It is my distinct privilege and honor to congratulate the City of Krasnoyarsk on becoming the first ALSIB 2020 partner city. Let the work of this great effort become a solid foundation for a lasting peace and cooperation between our countries.”
From June through August 2020, BRAVO 369 will undertake the historic ALSIB 2020 flight in original World War II aircraft, beginning in Great Falls, Montana – the original staging base for ALSIB operations – travel through Canada and Alaska, and then to Krasnoyarsk and beyond. After departing Russia, the flight will continue across Europe with a final stop in the United Kingdom before crossing the Atlantic Ocean and back to North America, stopping in Washington, DC and then ending where it began in Great Falls, Montana.
Geer continued, “Even though the geopolitical landscape is much different than it was 75 years ago, citizen diplomacy and projects like this are embraced by both the people and governments of our countries. Only through listening and learning from others can we hope to share our history, our culture, our identity and our future.”
On November 27, 2018, an official signing ceremony was attended by numerous Russian dignitaries, educators, and veterans in Krasnoyarsk, Russia along with representatives from BRAVO 369 in Bellingham, Washington. Addressing American partners from BRAVO 369, Mayor of Krasnoyarsk Sergei Eremin noted “We honor and are very sensitive to the project that will connect two continents. The “friendship flight” will strengthen our historical ties and remind you: you need to appreciate the past – then there will be a future. I am grateful to all the organizers from both the American and Russian sides. As many people as possible should be aware of the legendary mission of air route and the history of the heroes.”
About BRAVO 369
The BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization consisting of a dedicated group of business, education and aviation professionals, committed to education and the support of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) programs by providing scholarship opportunities, preserving historical aircraft, and inspiring youth worldwide to “Aim High!”
Known as the cultural capital of Siberia, Krasnoyarsk was originally named as “Krasniy Yar,” meaning “Beautiful Bank.” The turning point for the city’s history was the construction of the great Trans-Siberian Railway in 1895. This railway connected Krasnoyarsk with the central part of Russia and was later a major contributor to the war effort. Both aircraft and war materiel flown over the Alaska-Siberia air route were shipped into central Russia using the railroad.