BRAVO 369 IN THE NEWS
TV INTERVIEW – KRTV GREAT FALLS, MT
RUSSIAN TV INTERVIEW - RTV MOSCOW RUSSIA
VIDEO NEWS INTERVIEW – GREAT FALLS TRIBUNE
PRESS RELEASE September 24,2013
RUSSIAN FOREIGN MINISTRY OFFICIALS CALL BRAVO 369’s WARPLANES TO SIBERIA “A NOBLE PROJECT”
“The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation…it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.” Franklin Delano Roosevelt
Bellingham, Washington, USA. September 24, 2013
The BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation met in Seattle with the Russian Consul General, Andrey Yushmanov, and a delegation from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation to discuss the Warplanes to Siberia project. According to Jeff Geer, President and Chairman of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation, “This is a factual story about the resourcefulness, bravery, determination, and dedication of thousands of men and women across three nations―Russia, the United States, and Canada ―who suffered great hardships in an effort to save the world during World War II. Seventy years later, this little-known chapter of history remains a mystery.
Warplanes to Siberia is a flight re-creation and documentary about the secret delivery of nearly 8,000 American-made military aircraft to the former Soviet Union via the Alaska-Siberia Air Route (ALSIB) that runs from Great Falls, Montana up through Canada and Alaska, across the Bering Strait, into Siberia, and on to Krasnoyarsk in central Russia.
Geer said, “Our first meeting with the Russian delegation was friendly, engaging, and extremely successful. We came away with a greater understanding of the next steps that must be taken in order to get permission to fly and film this mission in Russian airspace. Even more important, the Russian government is willing to support and endorse our effort. Representatives from the Russian Foreign Ministry went as far as to call Warplanes to Siberia a ‘noble project’.”
Geer communicated that BRAVO 369 is already engaged with a private Russian aviation firm who will work with the group to develop a flight plan around sensitive areas of Russian air space and coordinate the flight with Russian aviation authorities. A meeting is being held in Bellingham, Washington in late September between key members of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation and the private aviation representatives from Moscow.
The Warplanes to Siberia project is gaining international attention and becoming well known for its fascinating historical significance. According to Geer, “Very few people knew about the ALSIB program then, let alone now. Our mission is to accurately re-create the flights using actual WWII military aircraft as well as document the story from both sides. This was one of the great logistical efforts of the 20th century – and a vital support network for the Soviet Union during World War II. It is a chapter of history that is untold in modern documentaries to this day. The Russians, as do I and the BRAVO 369 team, want the world to know that we were once allies and united against a common enemy during World War II.”
In 2015, Russia, along with rest of the free world, will be celebrating the 70th anniversary of the victory of the Great Patriotic War and World War II in Europe. Geer continued, “We are in the planning stages of participating in this celebration with American and Russian authorities. Our ultimate goal is to fly the entire 6,000 mile Alaska-Siberia Air Route in authentic WWII T-6 Texan aircraft. We are hopeful we will have the opportunity to fly with our Russian counterparts as part of a joint formation across Siberia and beyond, celebrating this milestone anniversary. This is a story that must be told throughout the world and preserved for future generations.”
At the conclusion of the meeting, the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation presented the Consulate General of the Russian Federation in Seattle with the Warplanes to Siberia award for its role in strengthening Russian-USA relations.
PRESS RELEASE September 10, 2013
BRAVO 369 FLIGHT FOUNDATION TO MEET WITH RUSSIAN CONSUL GENERAL AND DELEGATION FROM MOSCOW
“Warplanes to Siberia” project and subsequent flight to Krasnoyarsk will be discussed with Russian authorities in Seattle, Wash.
Bellingham, Wash. September 10, 2013
The BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation announced today that it is meeting in Seattle on September 13 with Russian Consul General, Andrey Yushmanov, and a delegation headed by the Director of the Department of History and Records of the Russian Foreign Ministry to discuss the “Warplanes to Siberia” project. Jeff Geer, President and Chairman of the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation said, “It is an honor to speak with Russian officials about our exciting project. A tremendous amount of coordination must take place with the Russian government before we can fly there with our WWII aircraft and film the documentary. This meeting is a pivotal moment for BRAVO 369 in developing a relationship with the Russian officials and working together to obtain the necessary permissions to fly the mission in Russian airspace.”
The project is gaining international attention and becoming well known for its fascinating historical significance. From 1942 – 1945 the United States secretly delivered nearly 8,000 American-made military aircraft to the former Soviet Union via the Alaska-Siberia Air Route, otherwise known as “ALSIB”. Created in 1941 as part of the Lend-Lease program, the ALSIB is approximately 6,000 miles long and runs from Great Falls, Montana up through Canada and Alaska, across the Bering Sea, into Siberia, and on to Krasnoyarsk, Russia. According to Geer, “Very few people knew about this program then, let alone now. Our mission is to accurately re-create the flights using actual WWII Military aircraft as well as document the story for future generations. It was one of the greatest logistical efforts of the 20th century – and a major turning point of World War II. It is a chapter of history that is untold in modern documentaries to this day.”
In preparation for their flight to Russia, the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation completed an initial test flight in July making stops at airfields along the historic ALSIB route beginning in Great Falls, MT and then into Alberta, Northern BC, the Yukon, and Alaska. Geer said, “We truly relived the life of a 7th Ferrying Squadron pilot right down to the vintage 1944 North American AT-6 Texan we were flying. The test flight gave us a great look at the rugged terrain of the route and a valuable insight of the flying conditions that we can expect to encounter along the ALSIB route to Russia.”
When interviewed in June at The Museum of Flight in Seattle by RTV, a Russian news agency from Moscow, Geer told the reporters, “This is a factual story about the resourcefulness, the bravery, the determination, and the dedication of thousands of men and women across three nations who suffered great hardships in an effort to save the world. Sadly, 70 years later, their story remains forgotten. “Warplanes to Siberia” is unique in that, as an adventure-based documentary, it educates through flight re-creation and demonstrates how ordinary people can achieve extraordinary things through leadership, cooperation, and a common goal.”
“In some small way,” Geer said, “I believe this project will remind the world that Russia and United States were allies during WWII. In spite of current political tensions, I am encouraged that peace-seeking nations can, and will, work together as one, even under the most difficult of situations. Franklin Delano Roosevelt said it best: “The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation…it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.”
The BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization dedicated to education, aviation history and the preservation of historic aircraft. BRAVO 369 supports science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) educational programs and scholarship opportunities.
PRESS RELEASE August 14, 2013
Pilots Brave Challenges of Once Secret Air Route to Russia
BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation completes round trip test flight to Alaska
The BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation announced this week the successful completion of their training mission to Fairbanks, Alaska as part of a film documentary and flight re-creation project called “Warplanes to Siberia,” the story of the secret delivery of military aircraft between the United States and the Soviet Union during WWII.
Jeff Geer, President of the foundation said “We truly re-lived the life of a 7th Ferrying Squadron pilot right down to the vintage 1942 North American AT-6 Texan we were flying.” During their flight to Fairbanks, Geer and Alan Anders, owner of the T-6, were joined by Mark Kandianis piloting his Cessna 206 as a logistics aircraft along with Elizabeth Ackerly, a Boeing 777 First Officer with American Airlines.
The team made stops at airfields along the historic Alaska-Siberia (ALSIB) route beginning in Great Falls, MT and then into Alberta, Northern BC, the Yukon, and Alaska. During the war, nearly 8,000 military aircraft were flown year round up this route. “Since we were flying Visual Flight Rules (VFR), we had to leave Bellingham (WA) two days early to get over the North Cascades mountain range to Great Falls due to an approaching storm system. “We were delayed for several days in Dawson Creek, BC and then got into some flyable but rapidly deteriorating weather conditions as we approached Fort Nelson, BC” said Geer.
Geer continued “What is so amazing is the pilots who flew these aircraft up the ALSIB route did not have reliable charts and faced all kinds of bad weather which was one of the main reasons there were so many casualties. Even though we were in a vintage aircraft, we had the modern conveniences of advanced avionics, including GPS and satellite communications. At night we had modern creature comforts of a hotel room, hot showers, and good food – they didn’t. And to think that once they got to Fairbanks they had to hop on to an unheated C-47 transport and go back to Great Falls to do it over and over and over again. The entire flight crew gained a whole new respect for these pilots and their sacrifices, and their contribution to Lend-Lease effort.” The round trip flight between Great Falls and Fairbanks is approximately 4,000 miles.
While in Great Falls, the BRAVO 369 flight team was greeted enthusiastically by news media, airport officials and Holman Aviation, the fixed base operator at the airport. Historically, Great Falls was the staging base for the ferrying flights en route to Alaska and Russia and home of Army Air Corps 7th Aircraft Ferrying Group. Geer also spent time with Montana Governor Steve Bullock briefing him on the flight project and discussing the importance that Great Falls played during WWII.
On July 4 while in Fairbanks Alaska, Geer and Anders participated in the Centennial of Aviation in Alaska by flying in a formation of four T-6 Texans in recognition of the first airplane flight in Alaska 100 years earlier to the day. Geer was later interviewed at the ALSIB memorial in downtown Fairbanks by CBS affiliate KXD TV. “It was an honor to be interviewed at the ALSIB memorial, it was a surreal moment for me. For the past six years of planning this flight the memorial was nothing more than a symbolic photo. Having flown the first leg of the ALSIB route, experiencing the life of a 7th Ferrying Squadron pilot and standing before this beautiful memorial was truly an honor and something I will never forget. The memorial is a great tribute to those who have flown the route before us and those who gave their lives delivering aircraft to the Soviets” Geer said.
In an address to Congress in 1945, Franklin Delano Roosevelt said ““The structure of world peace cannot be the work of one man, or one party, or one nation…it must be a peace which rests on the cooperative effort of the whole world.” The story of the Alaska-Siberia Lend-Lease program is as important now as it was then. It serves as a reminder of the great sacrifices and cooperation between the United States, Canada and Russia, yet most people in the world have never heard of it or know if its significance. According to Geer “Warplanes to Siberia” is gaining international attention as it brings this story to the forefront. “Our plan is to fly to Krasnoyarsk, an additional 3,000 miles across Siberia, beginning in July 2014; however, there are many things we need to accomplish before we can proceed. Safety, historical accuracy and the mutual cooperation between our great nations are our top priorities. We have proven our ability to plan and fly the first leg of this route safely and effectively. We now need to take that next giant step.”
Now 68 years later in the midst of cooling relations between the United States and Russia, the BRAVO 369 Flight Foundation believes this flight project may mean more than re-creating history for an educational documentary. This may be a goodwill ambassador flight reminding the world that we are once allies serving a greater cause in the course of freedom.