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HAL travels 'From Russia - With Log'

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Tue, Feb 9th 2021 08:55 am

The Historical Association of Lewiston’s February program, “From Russia – With Log,” will take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Red Brick Municipal Building gym, 145 N. Fourth St. Douglas DeCroix is the presenter.

In 2004, a British and Russian salvage team extracted a waterlogged warplane from the depths of Lake Mart-Yavr, about 18 miles southeast of Luostari in the Russian Arctic Circle. The aircraft was a Bell P-39 Airacobra – P-39Q-15BE 44-2911, to be exact – which had disappeared on a routine ferrying flight 60 years prior. The pilot, Lt. Baranovski, was still seated in the cockpit, and when salvagers looked in the door-mounted map case, they found the aircraft’s log – documenting every stage of its life from Niagara Falls to the arctic lake.

This historic aircraft was acquired by the Niagara Aerospace Museum in 2008 and it returned home to Niagara Falls, yards from where it was manufactured in 1943, the following year. Since that time, it has provided a fascinating window into local aviation history and the vital Lend-Lease lifeline to the Soviet Union.

Some of the stories gleaned from this remarkable aircraft will provide the focus for historian DeCroix’s latest presentation for HAL. In his program, “From Russia – With Log,” he will share details about the aircraft’s design and construction, along with its brief, but storied journey to the Soviet Union and back.

A familiar presenter to HAL members, DeCroix currently serves as executive editor of Western New York Heritage Inc., the not-for-profit publisher of Western New York Heritage magazine. He holds degrees in history from the University of Illinois and Miami University of Ohio, and achieved doctoral candidacy status at Bowling Green State University.

A native of Chicago, DeCroix came to Western New York in the early 1990s. Since then, he has made significant contributions to numerous nationally aired historical documentaries produced by WNED-TV and The History Channel. He oversaw production of the three-volume commemorative series on the War of 1812, published by Western New York Heritage, and was one of the scholars selected to contribute a chapter for the Routledge Handbook of the War of 1812, published by the Taylor & Francis Group in late 2015.

For his contributions to regional history, DeCroix was selected to receive the prestigious Owen B. Augspurger Award by the Buffalo History Museum in October 2015. He continues to collaborate with a variety of cultural and educational organizations, working to celebrate the region’s rich history while seeking creative ways of bringing that history into the classroom and into the lives of the region’s inhabitants.

This community event is free and open to all. Guests can use the north door on Onondaga Street. Due to COVID-19 pandemic safety rules, all people must wear appropriate facial covering and practice social distancing during the presentation. Hand sanitizer will be available. There will be a 50-person seating limit.

There will be no refreshments served at this meeting.

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