“Warplanes to Siberia” is a historical re-creation and telling of the little known Alaska-Siberia air route (ALSIB). This modern-day program is not intended to be a reality TV show or a rewoven World War II story. It is a fact-based documentary built around flying the entire route from Great Falls, Montana to Krasnoyarsk, Russia in the exact type of aircraft that flew it 70 years ago, over the treacherous, frozen landscape of Canada, Alaska, and Siberia.
This flight had never before been re-created in its entirety. Nor had it ever been flown by one group of pilots. Even during war, it was broken into three different segments by U.S. pilots and then Soviet pilots. The 2015 flight featured both U.S. and Russian pilots flying together in formation across the entire route from Great Falls to Krasnoyarsk. The team flew on to Moscow, another 3,000 miles, to celebrate the end of World War II in Europe, also known as The Great Patriotic War in Russia as part of the MAKS air show.
The flight stopped at airfields along the entire Alaska-Siberia air route and paid tribute to the many brave men and women in the U.S., Canada, and Russia, who were involved in this effort during World War II. We coordinated our arrivals with local schools, airports, media, and museums to raise awareness of the significance of ALSIB as well as the contributions and sacrifices that have gone unrecognized for 70 years. Every effort was made to seek out remaining veterans who may still be alive or their immediate families to include their stories and experiences as part of our program.
As part of the Russian leg, widespread media coverage was at each stop along the ALSIB route (local and national television channels, printed press). The 2015 flight project not only succeeded in raising awareness of ALSIB, but was used for educational purposes in the United States, Canada, and Russia, thus further strengthening Russian-American relations.
Jeff Geer, who will be lead the U.S. flight segment, said “a project of this magnitude cannot be achieved by one person, one organization, or one country acting alone. This was the first time that a joint Russian and U.S. team will be made the flight to Krasnoyarsk and Moscow together over the ALSIB route. During World War II, U.S. pilots delivered the aircraft only as far as Fairbanks and then the Soviet pilots took the aircraft the rest of the way to Krasnoyarsk. It is as large of a logistical effort now as it was then to move aircraft and crews over the 6,000 mile (9,700 kilometer) route with difficult terrain and flying conditions. This is a story that must be told and preserved for future generations.”
“It’s much different when you are speaking to people on a person-to-person basis rather than a government to government basis. I think that’s one of the great things about the BRAVO 369 project is that it will really bring people together as individuals who have common interests in aviation, history, and education. That’s really the terms we should look at: we’re all people – we all want to do the best for our families and make sure our kids have a better life than we do. And sometimes on the political front, as countries, that gets in the way. And that’s the great thing about your project… in bringing people together..”
“The 70th anniversary of the end of World War II, or the Great Patriotic War as it is known in Russia, promises to be a landmark event. This is the last major commemoration that will be attended by veterans who served in the war. It is our chance to say goodbye and pay honor to the last of these brave men and women. Warplanes to Siberia (ALSIB 2015) helps tell their story and, as such, deserves to be supported.”
“That’s what museums are all about… you have an item that you protect from collecting dust with just the hope that someday it will tell a story that will inspire and educate people. When you stop and think about it, maybe 95% of what you have there is just sitting there waiting for that opportunity. And I tell people all the time that history is a tough profession. It’s not like a doctor who can set someone’s leg and feel good about it. The patient leaves the hospital and the leg is healed. In the case of history, it is hard work because you are going through and you are cataloguing, trying to save something, and you never know if it will be seen by someone. Let alone inspire and educate thousands of people. And when you can take something that’s been sitting in a box like this and you can put it on a film that people can see… then it is all worthwhile.”
“The Lend-Lease program is an important part of our history. I’m so pleased that BRAVO 369 is helping educate people about that part of our history because very little was known about it. It was a secret program at the time so it wasn’t publicized at all. And then shortly after the end of World War II when the Iron Curtain fell, the United States really didn’t want to talk about that aspect of our history and neither did the Soviet Union. And so there is very little known about it. And it’s important, I feel, to preserve that part of our history and I’m pleased to see that BRAVO 369 is doing that – to preserve it, to promote it so that people understand it and educate people about that.”
“There is nothing that gives me more joy than to see a child looking up at an airplane for the first time and thinking what a marvelous shape. Their mouth drops open – their eyes light up. Children need tangible examples, real things – making the connection between that tangible object and what those objects did in history. That’s what brings history alive. That’s what I think BRAVO 369 will bring to the world.”
“BRAVO 369 has been great about giving students the connection to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), finding a common purpose and inspiring the next generation.”
“We’re finding out more and more that there is a lot of interest in these kinds of projects, (such as the BRAVO 369 flight re-creation to Russia). Historical things like this have become very interesting to the public.”
“Lend-Lease and the Alaska-Siberia Airway was a turning point in WWII. It is important to know that the courage and bravery was also done here at home – that peace seeking nations must cooperate to defeat evil – this information must be made available to students and adults so it’s not forgotten. BRAVO 369 will serve this purpose.”
“The story of the Alaska-Siberia Ferry Route and the delivery of nearly 8,000 warplanes from the United States to the Soviet Union was an odyssey of flight. It was an event that was unique in aviation history – it had never happened before and it will probably never happen again.”
“When I learned about the BRAVO 369 project and their involvement with the school district and how the kids will be daily involved with the flight and what it takes to fly a plane, and then to bring the WASP program into it, is even a greater telling of history.”