Sigismund Levanevsky, pilot, adventurer, and awarded the "Hero of the Soviet
Union" - was also known as "the Soviet Lindbergh"
Total Persons on Board:
Six - Levanevsky, and five others:
N. G. Kastanaev, second-in-command & pilot
Victor. I. Levchenko, navigator
N. J. Galkovsky, radio operator
Gregory T. Pobezhimov, mechanic
N. .N. Godovokov, mechanic
August 12, 1937 (Moscow Time: August 13th, 1937, at 17:58)
Cold temperatures - typical of the Arctic, and high winds & ice
From Moscow to New York City, with stops in Fairbanks and Chicago.
Area Believed Crashed:
Radio operators on the ground received Levanevsky's last radio message when
the plane was 300 miles past the North Pole, headed for Alaska.
Reason for flight:
To prove a commercially-viable transpolar flight route between Asia and
A four-engine Soviet-made Bolkhovitinov-A bomber, tail number H-209
Prior to loss of radio contact, the flight crew reported
loss of power in their outer starboard engine.
On August 16, the Russian government contacted explorer
Sir Hubert Wilkins, and asked for his assistance in the search & rescue
operation. His search team covered an area larger than the state of
Montana, to no avail, through mid September flying over 10,000 miles
crisscrossing the Arctic. The searchers assumed Levanevsky’s aircraft
crashed into the Arctic Ocean and sunk to the bottom.
A member of the search crew was Jimmy Mattern, who
had in 1933, been rescued by Levanevsky when Mattern's Lockheed Vega crashed in
Siberia during a solo circumnavigation attempt.
In March 1999, Dennis Thurston of the Minerals Management Service in
Anchorage noticed an unusual shape on a sonar image of the sea floor during
an ARCO pre-drilling survey. In the shallows of Camden Bay, between Prudhoe
Bay and Kaktovik, was something shaped like a 60-foot cigar. Thurston
thought the cigar looked like the fuselage of an airplane. Thurston traveled
to Fairbanks for a conference in early May and showed the oddity to David
Stone, a professor emeritus at the Geophysical Institute who had searched
for the Levanevsky plane years before. "When David saw the image, he
immediately said 'Levanevsky!'" Thurston said. "I knew I was in trouble."
A year later, a submarine search of the site, however, was unable to find
any trace of an airplane.