"This is Our Common History": American Aircraft Mechanic Arrived in Krasnoyarsk to See a Legendary Aircraft

Эвакуация самолёта из тундры. Фото предоставлено Красноярским краевым отделением РГО

An American, Timothy Schwalbe, came to Krasnoyarsk to see the “Douglas C-47” aircraft, which was saved from inevitable destruction in the tundra by the members of the international expedition of the Russian Geographical Society "Tyurikov's Plane. The Return" several years ago. Having learned about the unique operation from local newspapers, a resident of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, got the idea to personally visit Russia. The former aircraft mechanic, who worked for many years at the “Douglas” plant, wanted to meet the people who evacuated the legendary aircraft.

The C-47 “Douglas” aircraft was manufactured in the United States in February 1943. Under the Lend-Lease program, it was transferred to the Soviet Union. The aircraft did not participate in hostilities. Since April 1943, it had been conducting civil flights in the north of Krasnoyarsk Territory.

On April 23, 1947, during a flight Kozhevnikov Bay - Dudinka - Krasnoyarsk, the plane made an emergency landing in a swamp in the tundra. According to various sources, there were 26 to 32 passengers on board. On May 11, the “Douglas” was found, and some of the people were evacuated. Nine people, including the aircraft commander Maksim Tyurikov, were missing. The remains of Tyurikov, who landed the plane in the difficult conditions of the Arctic, were discovered only in 1953 by a Taimyr reindeer breeder.

In 2016-2017, during the expedition of the Russian Geographical Society, the "Douglas" was taken from Taimyr to Krasnoyarsk. The restoration was done by the team of the “Trassa” search crew of the Military Engineering Institute of Siberian Federal University, headed by a member of the Russian Geographical Society, Alexander Matveev.


Фото пресс-службы Красноярского краевого отделения РГО

“This is not just an airplane, it is a part of our common heroic history, the connection between states and people. I am sincerely delighted and very glad that Krasnoyarsk and Russia as a whole are treating this historical heritage with such respect,” Schwalbe emphasized.

The guest from the United States was greeted by the chairman of the Krasnoyarsk Regional Branch of the Russian Geographical Society Igor Spiridenko, who led the expedition "Tyurikov's Plane. The Return", and Alexander Matveev, who was in charge of the restoration work. In a conversation with them, the American learned the details of the step-by-step restoration of the aircraft.


Фото Красноярского краевого отделения РГО

“I was told that the ‘Douglas’ would become one of the key exhibits at the future ‘The Development of the North Park-Museum’ on Molokov Island. I am sure that many people from all over the world will come to Krasnoyarsk to see and touch this story,” says Timothy Schwalbe.

Timothy Schwalbe donated rare postcards related to the history of the “Douglas” aircraft as a gift to the future "The Development of the North Park-Museum". In response, Igor Spiridenko presented the guest with a colorful edition of "Tyurikov's Plane. The Return", which tells about the international expedition.