An international scientific and practical conference devoted to the 75th Anniversary of the Krasnoyarsk Air Route "Alaska-Siberia" was opened in Krasnoyarsk
Both Russian and American scientists, as well as representatives of public organizations took part in the international scientific and practical conference "Lend-Lease. Routes of cooperation against the common enemy." that opened on November 10th in the Library of the Siberian Federal University. The cooperation of the states of the anti-Hitler coalition, the Lend-Lease aircraft, the first ferrying flight along the route, the story of the Krasnoyarsk "Douglas", the history of the Krasnoyarsk Air Route “Alaska-Siberia” in postal envelopes and postcards, in literature and movies are just some of the topics covered by the conference participants.
Krasnoyarsk Vice-Mayor Sergey Kochan noted: "Various events devoted the historic date - the 75th Anniversary of the Alaska-Siberia air route - have been held in Krasnoyarsk during almost this whole year. Today's conference is the culmination of all these events. It is especially valuable that they found a response not only from Krasnoyarsk, but also from many residents of Russia, as well as from foreign countries. Of course, such effect is very important, especially in the current state of Russian-American relations. The appeal to the great history that unites us is a chance to reflect on how important the world peace is."
An important part of the conference is the exhibition. Models of military materiel (planes, tanks, etc.), fragments of airplanes brought from the places of crashes - to see such exhibits, literally collected by bit, is a rare chance.
Vyacheslav Filippov, an employee of the Museum of the Military Engineering Institute of SibFU, who has searched for the planes’ crews that perished in plane crashes during the war years and organized expeditions to the crash sites says: "In Krasnoyarsk, during the war years, there was a center for retraining frontline pilots, a training wing was stationed here. Frontline combat pilots arrived here by railway. The training lasted from two weeks to a month. During the years of air route operation in our rear city, there were 60 aircraft training and ferrying accidents. 123 people died. The search unit of the Military Engineering Institute of SibFU and our volunteers have already installed 23 commemorative signs on the lethal crashes’ sites. The remains of three crews were found at the crash sites and solemnly buried in the Troitskoye cemetery in Krasnoyarsk. "
A truly touching element of the exhibition was the art exposition of drawings devoted to the air route. Among the authors are both children from Krasnoyarsk and professional artists from various parts of the globe: Australia, the USA, Canada, South Africa, Poland and, of course, Russia. A really unique event within the conference was a direct video line with the founders of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation (USA). Specialists with international experience, Jeff Geer and Craig Lang, despite the 14 hours time difference with Krasnoyarsk, told the participants of the conference about the history of American and Canadian part of the Alaska-Siberia Air Route, about the restoration of Lend-Lease aircraft , their participation in aviation shows and, most importantly, about their project “Warplanes to Siberia” (2015) and their future project, which they plan to launch in 2020. In addition, within the framework of the conference, archival video materials were broadcast, telling about the history of the route and the pilots themselves, including an interview with the war-time ferrying pilot Mike Hunt. He is 95 years old now and is the only living pilot of World War II, who flew the B-17 or, as it was called, "Memphis Belle".
"Most of our flights went to Ladd Field and then after that Russian pilots would come there and pick up the Lend-Lease airplanes. And we didn’t have much contact with them either because they were most of those were combat pilots and they already knew how to fly. And they would just get in this airplane and take off. We flew almost every day. We’d land some place where we were supposed to get on an airliner and to get back to base again so we would be ready for another delivery." recalls Mr. Hunt.
It should be noted that an enormous amount of work in preparing the American participation in the Krasnoyarsk conference was done by August Schaefer and his wife Irina. They also came to Krasnoyarsk to take part in the conference.
"I’ve always been interested in aviation. A few years ago I visited the Central Air Force Museum in Monino, where I saw American airplanes with Soviet symbols. And then I asked myself: "Why?" In August 2015 when Irina and I were in Krasnoyarsk two American warplanes flew to Russia, to Krasnoyarsk, and I got even more interested in the topic. I'm glad to be a participant of the conference and to present to the citizens of your city an American perspective of the legendary events of those years," says August Schaefer.
The conference lasts for two days. The organizers hope that the event will help to preserve the unique historical heritage, as well as have a positive impact on Russian-American relations. The same hope is expressed by the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Russian Federation to the USA Anatoly Antonov and the President of the Congress of Russian Americans Natalia Sabelnik, who sent greetings to the conference participants and all Krasnoyarsk citizens.
"The mutual act of bravery of the Russian-American pilots who opposed the fascist barbarity will forever remain a symbol of the unity of the two peoples. Its memory encourages us to cherish and multiply the traditions of friendship and mutual understanding in order to avoid new global conflicts," Anatoly Antonov said in his telegram.
"The history of the Krasnoyarsk Air Route, which was called the Road of Life between the US and the USSR teaches us a lot. It is the common history and social ties that can mitigate the decline in the state of relations that we see between Russia and the United States," said Natalia Sabelnik.
For the reference:
The first aircraft were sent along the Alaska-Siberia ferrying route in October-November 1942, and on November 11th, they landed at the Krasnoyarsk airfield. From that moment, the supply of combat aircraft via the Krasnoyarsk Air Route continued until October 1945. More than 8,000 aircraft were timely delivered to the front and made a significant contribution to the great victory over the enemy.