Valery Chkalov was a Soviet test pilot, brigade commander (1938), Hero of the Soviet Union (1936). He was the commander of the crew, who in 1937 made the first non-stop flight across the North Pole from Moscow to Vancouver, Washington.
Valery Pavlovich Chkalov was born on January 20 (February 2), 1904 in Vasilyovo, Balakhninsky district, Nizhny Novgorod Province, Russian Empire (now Chkalovsk, Russia). His mother died in 1910, when Valery was six years old. At the age of seven the boy entered elementary school. He had excellent memory and good mathematical abilities, was a good swimmer. In 1916, after school his father sent him to study at the Cherepovets Technical School. However, because of the financial difficulties and shortage of teachers, the school was closed in 1918. Valery returned home and began working with his father.