During Project Zebra, the U.S. trained Soviet pilots to fly a modified version of the PBY Catalina, a seaplane with a primary mission of bombing submarines. (Wikipedia Commons/U.S. Navy)
An aircraft on a secret mission for the Russians crashed into the Pasquotank River near Elizabeth City almost 75 years ago. For decades it was kept secret. Elizabeth City locals knew little to nothing about it.
The flight was part of a collaboration between President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet Union premier Joseph Stalin called Project Zebra. The United States entered a lend-lease agreement to supply the Soviet Union with a modified version of the PBY Catalina, a seaplane with a primary mission of bombing submarines. That Russian model, known as the PBN-1 Nomad, featured more fuel capacity and a longer range.
The Navy produced 185 of the large, heavily-armed aircraft at a shipyard in Philadelphia, according to a book by M.G. Crisci. More than 300 Soviet pilots trained over 18 months in 1944 and 1945 at the Elizabeth City Coast Guard base.
A former Soviet submarine that became a tourist attraction docked adjacent to the Queen Mary in Long Beach is expected to be sold soon to an anonymous buyer, with plans to remove the rusting sub by mid-May.
The 48-year-old Russian Foxtrot-class submarine, known as the Scorpion, had hosted paying visitors for 17 years before it fell into such disrepair that it became infested with raccoons and was closed to the public in 2015.
"Cosmonaut diversity was key for the Soviet message to the rest of the globe: Under socialism, a person of even the humblest origins could make it all the way up," wrote Sophie Pinkham just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Apollo 11 moon landing.
President Donald Trump put together an impromptu episode of "Drunk History" on Wednesday during a cabinet meeting when he explained how "Russia used to be the Soviet Union" but then "Afghanistan made it Russia" because they invaded in 1979.