In the 1930s, the airplane was still relatively new. A new sport had developed around it: long-distance flying. It had really gotten its start with Charles Lindbergh’s flight to Paris in 1927. The public watched in fascination as one record after another was set.
The Soviet Union decided in 1935 to jump in. It planned a flight from Moscow to San Francisco, which would cover more than 6,000 miles. It would be an audacious attempt, and ultimately would end in death.