Whitehorse Daily Star

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Photo by Whitehorse Star

Top: THE AIRMEN pose before take-off: left to right; Nicol Galkovsky, Nikola Kastaneyev, Sigismund Levanevsky, Grigory Pobezhimov, Nikol Godovikov, and Victor Leveschenko. Bottom: MECHANICS prepare Sigismund Levanevsky's aircraft for departure from Moscow en route to Fairbanks Alaska. Photo courtesy Interior and Alaska Aeronautical Foundation (Fairbanks) and the National Air and Space Museum (Washington, D.C.)

The six who vanished

Top ranking aviators of three nations were poised today on the rim of the Arctic for an intensive search of the polar wastes in quest of the vanished Soviet pilots, Sigismund Levanevsky and his five companions, awaiting better weather at Fairbanks.

By Whitehorse Star on August 20, 1937

From the Whitehorse STAR August 20 ,1937

THE SIX WHO VANISHED

"Air Aces of three nations comb polar wastes for a trace of missing aviators"

Former Northern Airways pilot takes part in intensive search.

FAIRBANKS, Alaska, August 18.

Top ranking aviators of three nations were poised today on the rim of the Arctic for an intensive search of the polar wastes in quest of the vanished Soviet pilots, Sigismund Levanevsky and his five companions, awaiting better weather at Fairbanks.

Jimmy Mattern, who made a record non-stop flight here from Los Angeles, making the flight in something over 14 hours, completed equipping his plane with de-icers. At Aklavik, the Canadian pilot, Bob Randall, former pilot of the Northern Airways at Carcross, Yukon, is ready to scour the Arctic in a plane which was chartered by Russia's Washington Embassy; while at Toronto, Hollick Kenyon, famous Arctic flyer, has accepted an offer of an airplane from Sir Hubert Wilkins and will leave for Aklavik immediately.

While faint radio signals have been heard in the wave length used by the missing plane, nothing so far has been received. Reports coming from the Eskimo tribes near Point Barrow said the natives report hearing a plane in that vicinity. A search of that region will be made by Pilot Bob Randall.

The fliers had food and supplies for 45 days, including sleeping bags, tent, axes, portable radio and a rubber float.

There has been no definite word from the missing aviators since 9:35 a.m. Eastern Standard Time, Friday; just two hours after their plane crossed the North Pole in a blinding blizzard and headed down across ice-clogged seas toward the barren tundra of Arctic Alaska.

Three four-motored planes, similar to the lost ship, are being overhauled in Moscow to cross the roof of the world for the search, but they will not be ready for several days.

American pilot Jimmy Mattern intended to take off later this morning, carrying 1130 gallons of gasoline. His plane will have a cruising range of 6700 miles. Fairbanks is 1400 miles from the North Pole.

The plane has been listed as missing since 6:00 p.m. Friday when it was reported 2 hours overdue. In their last report to a U.S. radio station on Friday morning, they were 450 miles south of the pole on the American side. During the day the plane bucked a 60-mile gale and snow.

The Soviet plane, piloted by Levanevsky, climbed to a height of 20,000 feet in a vain effort to avoid headwinds. Since supplies of aviation gasoline had been stored at Fairbanks, the plane carried only enough fuel for a flight of about 4,000 miles. The fuel tanks would have held enough gasoline to cover 5,600 miles, but were not filled to capacity.

From the Whitehorse STAR, August 27, 1937

A new arrival in planes in town was the Sikorsky Amphibian which landed on the local airport on Monday evening after a flight from Seattle via Juneau. It is understood this plane has been chartered by the Russian government in the search for the lost flyers. Mr. and Mrs. King Baird and Mr. Charles Foster were the occupants of the plane.

UPDATE. Although there would be many searches over the years, no trace of Levanevsky's aircraft or crew has ever been found.

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