On July 27, the Russian Geographical Society began an expedition to explore the airfields of the Alaska-Siberia (Alsib) air route. It is assumed that the group, which includes specialists from the Center for Contemporary History and the Expeditionary Center of the Russian Ministry of Defense, will study the state of about fifteen airfields in the Far East and Siberia.
During the Great Patriotic War, they were used as transshipment ports for the supply of American combat aircraft under the Lend-Lease agreement. The route through Alaska and Siberia was considered the most reliable. In total, from 1942 to 1945, in this way, our troops received about eight thousand aircraft, which played an important role in the Victory.
Most airfields were built specifically for this purpose. Despite the sometimes extreme natural and climate conditions, these airfields served for many years after the war, and some of the landing strips are suitable for use to this day.
The current expedition was preceded by the extensive archive work. According to the lead scientist of the expedition, Sergei Katkov, tens of thousands of documents on the history of the route were examined. In the course of field research, it is planned to analyze its current state and the prospects for using the preserved infrastructure. In addition, the memory of the pilots who died during the flights will be immortalized.
On July 28, the expeditionary team of the Russian Geographical Society flew to the Far East. Then the search specialists will go to Chaplino; this is the most extreme eastern point of the Soviet part of the route. And then they will move to the west. The route will pass through four constituent entities of the Russian Federation –Chukotka Autonomous Okrug, Magadan Oblast, the Republic of Sakha (Yakutia) and Irkutsk Oblast. In total, almost 5.5 thousand km will have to be covered. Helicopter pilots of the Russian Aerospace Forces will help the search specialists in this. Assistance will also be provided by servicemen of the Eastern and Central Military Districts, the Pacific Fleet, the 21st Central Research Institute of Military Vehicles of the Russian Ministry of Defense.