When the Soviet Union, with the Tupolev ANT-25, set a new world distance record in 1937, The Aeroplane’s editor C. G. Grey felt the whole thing was a fix, said so in print, and nearly caused an international incident. The record stood — but was he right?
In July 1937 a single-engined monoplane, its unusually long and slender wings shining bright red in the California sun, touched down in a pasture a little outside San Jacinto, 62 hours 17 minutes after taking off from Moscow. The three men who emerged from the Tupolev ANT-25 were soon overwhelmed by the joyous reception they received. Hundreds of journalists jostled for a word and a photograph. They were feted on a tour of the United States and invited to meet President Roosevelt. Understandably so, for they had smashed the existing world distance record, on only the second intercontinental flight across the North Pole. It showed the still-young USSR in a new light, and promised to smooth the way for a better relationship with western nations.