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Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — polar route aviation explorer

16 July 2014

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — polar route aviation explorer

47° 31′ 06″ N / 122° 17′ 49″ W

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — photo by Joseph May

The bust of Hero of the Soviet Union Valery Pavlovich Chkalov at Seattle’s Museum of Flight — photo by Joseph May

This bust of Valery Pavlovich Chkalov, located at Seattle’s Museum of Flight, honors an aerial explorer in aerobatics and long distance flight. Chkalov proved the value of polar and near polar flight routes in the 1930s — losing his life on such a flight from the former Soviet Union to the Seattle area. His body as well as the crash site has not been found. His exploration of these routes is valued daily on the routes connecting Chicago as well as New York City with Beijing and Hong Kong. His bust poetically faces toward SeaTac gazing upon the northward departures. Unfortunately, the artist’s name was not available.

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov — photo by Joseph May

Valery Pavlovich Chkalov with Boeing’s Red Barn as backdrop — photo by Joseph May

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 16 July 2014 10:12

    Morning, Joe…usually I don’t have a problem visualizing scale…but I’m guessing from bottom to top that its five to five and a half feet tall? Its a beautifully done bronze. “Sculpture-wise” its a really dynamic work done by a sculptor with excellent technique and a sensitivity to the subject matter (person). If such were not the case, the purpose of doing it is totally lost…relatively speaking, when creating a 2 dimensional drawing…side view, front view etc. there is a lot of leeway; but in sculpture without the knowledge and training, it is a down hill slope from the first moment the clay is applied to the armature.

    I get to the USAFM 2-3 times a year (most terribly lit museum in the world, I’d bet!! lol) and some one of these years, I have to see the Seattle Museum , the Navy’s at Pensacola and NASM at Dulles.. I’ll never catch up with you of course :-)…, but these three are about at the top of the Bkt list! With walking difficulties I have, what would be nice would be to have them across the street from each other!! 🙂

    Also, thank you for your kind words regarding being a source. From the very beginning (can’t recall how many years ago, You know?…this has been a fun and enlightening experience, both visually and educationally…

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      16 July 2014 18:31

      Hello David and great to hear from you,

      I forced the perspective on the photo so the gorgeous red barn wouldn’t take over the image — so I used a wide angle lens up close to keep the background separated from the sculpture. That makes the sculpture look larger than it is — it came up to mid thigh so I’d say about 2½ feet in height. Thanks for your insight on 3-D sculpting — you’ve taught me another important lesson. Sorry that I couldn’t fine the artist’s name.

      Indeed, the USAFM is a bat cave! I think that facility has been my greatest challenge. The three other museums you mentioned are easy to walk — each has plenty of ramps as well as elevators. The Pensacola one may be shy of benches for resting but has a great place to eat and relax. Seattle’s has a great place to eat as well as sitting strategically scattered throughout. NASM in Dulles has plenty of seating and eating is a little better than okay. I noticed that if you stay in the nearby Hilton Garden Inn their airport shuttle bus can take you to the museum and back or to the airport — I mention this since they don’t advertise that, but if they don’t then take that shuttle to the airport and take the munucipal shuttle to the museum.

      I agree, a fun experience 🙂


  2. Pavel Knyshov permalink
    22 July 2014 08:15

    Good day!
    Information about Valery Chkalov looks incorrect. Valery Chkalov died 15 December 1938 in Moscow after test plane crash.
    Possibly this information is mixed with history of Polish/Soviet polar pilot Zygmunt (Sigizmund) Lewoniewski (Levanevsky), who dissapeared 13 August 1937 over Arctic Ocean.

    • travelforaircraft permalink
      22 July 2014 08:20

      Thanks 🙂 I will chase this down but give me a day or so. The dangers of entirely relying on Wikipedia (I don’t usually but had to in this case). Thanks again,


      PS Thanks to for providing a name of Lewoniewski — I will look him up as well 🙂

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