Events to celebrate the birth centenary of the legendary Soviet-era pilot Valery Chkalov will be held this weekend in his birthplace, the town of Vasilyovo (now named Chkalovsk, after him), in Russia's Nizhny Novgorod Region. They will be the culmination of a series of jubilee events held across the nation since February 2, the pilot's birthday, organizers say.
According to spokespeople for the Governor of the Nizny Novgorod Region, a lot of work has been done this year to renovate sites associated with the name of the world-famous pilot; specifically, his house museum has been refurbished and a new hangar has been built, to house the plane that Chkalov flew from Moscow to Vancouver, in Washington.
This weekend's celebrations in Chkalovsk will include a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the hangar, a ceremony to present awards to the winners of a regional composition contest among schoolchildren, an air show, a performance by world aerobatics champions, various sporting events and concerts.
Chkalov was born on February 2, 1904. He volunteered into the Red Army in 1919 and after the Civil War worked on the assembly line of an aircraft plant in Nizhny Novgorod. In 1921 through 1924, he attended aviation schools in Borisoglebsk and Yegoryevsk to then continue his studies at the Moscow School of Aerobatics and the Serpukhov School of Air Strikes. In 1924 he joined a fighter squadron to distinguish himself as a skilled pilot. In 1930, he became a test pilot with the Air Force Research Institute, where he test-piloted more than seventy various types of airplanes. He invented several new aerobatics maneuvers.
On July 20 to 22, 1936, Chkalov, together with Georgi Baidukov and Alexander Belyakov, carried a non-stop flight from Moscow to Petropavlovsk Kamchatsky, on the Pacific Coast. On June 18 to 20, 1937, this same crew carried out the world's first trans-polar flight to Vancouver, Washington.
On July 24, 1936, Chkalov had the Soviet Union's Hero title conferred upon him. He was also awarded two Lenin Orders and an Order of the Red Banner.
Chkalov died in an air crash as he was test-piloting a new fighter plane on December 1938. He was buried at the Kremlin Wall, on Moscow's Red Square.