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The Flight

In what is surely the most exciting aviation adventure of 1998, Americans Rhonda Miles and Nikki Mitchell will recreate one of history's most daring and remarkable flights.

The journey, known as the Flight of the Rodina, was a story of courage and stamina in the tradition of Lindbergh and Earhart. It took place 60 years ago in 1938, when three Russian women pilots flew non-stop from Moscow to the southeastern tip of Siberia. They flew with virtually no radio transmission, through skies so overcast they blocked all visual landmarks yet they broke a world record and opened up the route across Siberia. They were feted worldwide, and received their country's highest award, The Gold Star of hero of the Soviet Union.

The flight calls attention to a pioneering group of Russian pilots. Rodina navigator Marina Baskova went on to form, train, and promote the all-women combat regiments who served courageously and successfully as bomber and fighter pilots in World War II. In 1943, a supply ship launched from the shores of California was named the "Marina Baskova" in her memory.

In the true spirit of trans-national unity, plans are underway for two Russian women pilots to join Rhonda and Nikki in honoring the Rodina flight. The side by side trek across Russia, proposed by the president of The Russian Women's Pilot Association "Aviatrissa" Galina Korchuganova, would be a welcome addition to the project, said Mitchell.

"We're undertaking this flight to commemorate some of aviation's true heroes," she said, "and the fact that we may be joined by two Russian flyers will make our tribute even more meaningful."

What is even more remarkable is that Rhonda and Nikki's commemorative flight will be part of an around-the-world trip, taken entirely in a single-engine aircraft. They will take the plane, a Maule M-5, from Nashville via the north Atlantic to Moscow, from there they will retrace the Siberian route.  They will then proceed to the Providencia, the northeastern tip of Siberia and across the Berin Strait to Alaska, flying through the Northwest part of the U.S. to Nashville.

The underlying purpose of this memorial flight is to make certain that the fearless pioneer spirit of these incredible women is never delegated to the dull pages of history but rather is forever a source of renewal of that indescribable determination of the human spirit to seek the knowledge of what lies ahead.

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