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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Moscow’s Metro
    as a major achievement of Soviet socialism To a considerable extent it was The Metro introduced a new modern form of transportation to Russia it facilitated the movement of people around the rapidly expanding capital and it helped bring about Moscow s transformation from a sprawling and confused nineteenth century village into a sprawling and confused urban metropolis When first unveiled the Metro s earliest stations those constructed under the capital s central districts must have been stunning Decorated with statures bas reliefs and mosaics covering all the usual themes the unity of workers and peasants the vigilance of Red Army soldiers the triumphs of state planning the heroism of Party leaders etc they functioned as propagandistic set pieces that advertised the Party s power while providing citizens with a constant display of iconic Soviet forms My favorites of course are the ones found in Mayakovsky station which are given over almost entirely to the exploits of aviators The well ordered and rational Metro was a testament to the Soviet leaders faith in the transformative power of technology One contemporary writer went so far as to proclaim the Metro s subterranean structure to be a new System of Copernicus the hub around which the capital of emerging Soviet civilization and in time the world would gravitate Today most of the Metro s Stalinist splendor has been worn away by decades of use as every year the hoards of steaming humanity that shamble their way through the underground grow larger Although late at night and throughout the day in the outlying regions of the city the Metro is still the least inconvenient way to move about the capital during the morning and evening rush hours when traffic is high the experience can be less than pleasant Efforts are underway to improve

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/06/19/moscows-metro/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Avia-Corner
    to regions otherwise off limits to ordinary mortals Continue Reading Discussion 1 Rust never sleeps May 26 2007 8 12 am Filed in 20th Century Avia Corner Cold War General Twenty years ago Monday a nineteen year old West German named Mathias Rust shocked the world by landing a rented Cessna 172B near Moscow s Red Square following a six hour flight from Helsinki As this article in today s Moscow Times notes the last two decades have been almost as tumultuous for Rust as they have been for Russia Since being pardoned and released from Soviet prison in August 1988 Rust has been twice divorced and thrice arrested for fraud petty theft and attempted murder He now makes his living as a professional poker player Although I m not going to make the trip via Cessna I ll be landing in Moscow myself late next week I ll be there through early July conducting archival and field research in support of two new book projects I ve still got lots of packing and organizing to do in advance of my departure so things may continue to be quiet around here for the next week and a half or so However once I ve arrived and have established some degree of internet connectivity I expect to post field reports on a more regular basis ScP Discussion 0 The Russian Connection re Chinese Airmindedness May 16 2007 12 35 pm Filed in 1920s Airmindedness Avia Corner China Propaganda The second installment of the monthly blog run down Military History Carnival has turned up a recent and relevant aviation related post from the collaborative East Asian history blog Frog in a Well In it Alan Baumler ponders the question How air minded was China and offers some background information concerning the role of airplanes and air power in Chiang Kai shek s vision of a new China It turns out that the Nationalist leader and at least one of his subordinates was obsessed with airplanes and viewed the development of Chinese aviation as a means for transforming his countrymen and unifying the nation Baumler speculates that Chiang s air minded interests mirrored the widespread European fascination with flight in the inter War period particularly in 1930s Nazi Germany Perhaps It seems to me though that it isn t necessary to travel that far West in search of precedents to Chiang s aerial obsession In fact it may be possible to identify the origins of Chiang s fascination with flight without even leaving China Continue Reading Discussion 1 Catch and Surpass May 15 2007 10 25 pm Filed in 20th Century Avia Corner Cold War Modernization In yesterday s issue of Kommersant Sergei Minaev a regular contributor to the newspaper s weekly analytical supplement Власть Vlast published a noteworthy piece on the propensity of Russian citizens and statesmen to measure what happens in their country by the yardstick of foreign standards Titled Half a Century in Pursuit the article is a brief history

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/browse/avia-corner/page/9/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Archival Magic
    work One special paper is the archival pass пропуск However before obtaining the archival pass the researcher must produce two other special papers the passport of course and the credentialing letter or данное письмо Although it s probably best to obtain your passport from your government you can make up your own credentialing letter s If you choose to do so your goal should be to maximize the potential power of your papers by imparting to them a truly Magical Aura It s rather easy to do and it can be fun Here are some guidelines The letter must state your name position and institutional affiliation It should also indicate the topic of your research and your goal i e dissertation book article etc The letter should be written in Russian and should appear on official letterhead It should also contain the names titles and signatures of two or more bosses from as high as possible in your institution s bureaucratic feeding chain authorizing your request for archival access Dress up your letter with a stamp of some type The more fetching it appears the better This will help you when you invariably encounter a Russian susceptible to the charm of papers I have found that round gold colored stickers embossed with a logo can be highly effective Add a couple of ribbons color coordinated with the letterhead of course and you may just have made yourself a real Magic Key I have received more than a few compliments on the striking quality of my credentialing papers I am certain that in one case several years back in a provincial archive their magical appearance garnered me special treatment Now wait a minute you say This is pure nonsense Gold foil colored ribbons and embossed stamps are silly excesses Russians don t really give a damn about these things And all this talk of folkloric charms and Magic Keys is just dumb There s no need to do any of this It won t make a difference And indeed all of your objections would be right if they were not in fact wrong III I learned this again two days ago as I tried to exit the State Archive of the Russian Federation As procedure demands I handed off my papers to the on duty officer guarding the entry way The officer glanced at my archival pass and then turned to my passport to verify that the names appearing on both sets of documents matched As he opened the passport booklet his eyes grew wide Pulling the passport closer to his face he let out a gasp and exclaimed Это какая штука What s this we have here It s a passport I dully replied Wow I ve never seen one like it Then it dawned on me what I had just done I had unknowingly handed the guard a Magic Key I must note here that my passport is brand new I was forced to obtain it at the very

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/06/09/archival-magic/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Rust never sleeps
    August 1988 Rust has been twice divorced and thrice arrested for fraud petty theft and attempted murder He now makes his living as a professional poker player Although I m not going to make the trip via Cessna I ll be landing in Moscow myself late next week I ll be there through early July conducting archival and field research in support of two new book projects I ve still

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/05/26/rust-never-sleeps/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » The Russian Connection (re: Chinese Airmindedness)
    fact it may be possible to identify the origins of Chiang s fascination with flight without even leaving China On 13 July 1925 four Soviet airplanes landed in the Chinese capital They were the remnants of a larger squadron that had departed Moscow six weeks earlier with the goal of demonstrating the USSR s sympathy and friendship for the Chinese people by flying to Peking Known as the Great Flight Великий перелет the mission was history s first premeditated attempt to promote international goodwill through the use of aviation I discuss the details of the Great Flight in Chapter Six of DotA While I have no way of measuring Chinese responses to the Soviet propaganda mission given the high level diplomatic negotiations that took place in advance the audacious scope of the enterprise and the widespread media coverage devoted to the event journalists cameramen and a film crew flew along to document everything for the Bolshevik state it seems reasonable to conclude that the Great Flight would have attracted the attention of interested officials and military leaders like Chiang Perhaps it even inspired his original interest in aviation The Russian connection seems all the more plausible given the marked similarity of Chiang s ideas to those advanced by Bolshevik Party propagandists during their 1923 Campaign to Build the Red Air Fleet Chiang s reported ideas bear an uncanny similarity to those first expressed in Leon Trotsky s pamphlet Aviation Instrument of the Future 1923 Likewise while the Nationalists efforts to raise money through public donations can be traced to the national subscription campaigns popular in Western Europe and Imperial Russia prior to 1914 the practice of allowing enterprises and organizations to sponsor airplanes by donating the funds for their construction was first adopted by ODVF and Dobrolet Not coincidentally perhaps

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/05/16/the-russian-connection-re-chinese-airmindedness/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » “Catch and Surpass”
    On the whole I agree with the article s implicit argument regarding the importance of the West to Russians self perceptions Indeed as I noted some time back in a lengthy post In Defense of Russian Backwardness the conscious comparison of national standing vis a vis the Western world is an aspect of Russia s cultural tradition that is essential to understanding the nation s past and present Still I think the short piece gives short shrift to some relevant history Specifically the claim that the Khrushchev era was the period in which comparisons with America came to dominate Party rhetoric strikes me as mistaken While it is true that earlier the Bolsheviks were no less concerned with catching up with and overtaking Germany France or Great Britain it is not accurate that prior to the 1950s the United States was seen as merely one of a number of capitalist countries that were used as examples for promoting industrial economic and other policies The United States occupied a special place in the eyes of Bolshevik leaders from the very outset of the Soviet regime As they set out to construct their imagined new world based on advanced technology heavy industry and efficient production methods prominent party figures and lesser functionaries continually looked to real existing capitalism in the United States for methods and practices that they could adapt to the quest of building socialism As Alan Ball notes in his 2003 study Imagining America Influence and Images in Twentieth Century Russia Time and again Soviet leaders distinguished American from European capitalist lands antiquated by remnants of musty tradition The stifling hand of the feudal past did not grip the New World as it did the old they contended and thus the United States possessed vigor unmatched in Europe Apart from

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/05/15/catch-and-surpass/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Pot versus Kettle
    are scheduled to be reburied in June The removal of the monument and the desecration of the soldiers remains has sparked protests among Estonia s sizable ethnic Russian minority which comprises just over 25 of the country s population It also engendered a week long protest outside the Estonian embassy in Moscow calls from numerous members of the Russian State Duma to sever diplomatic relations with the Baltic state and the sudden announcement that Russian oil and gas supplies to Estonia have been shut off owing to issues involving railway maintenance No less ominously the Estonian government has alleged that over a span of several days hackers operating out of IP addresses based in Moscow state institutions have repeatedly brought down the web sites of several prominent Estonian governmental agencies including the office of the president parliament cabinet ministers and the foreign and defense ministries President Vladimir Putin who has publicly denounced the Estonian actions today weighed in on the related issue of Russia s contributions to the defeat of German fascism Speaking in advance of Wednesday s Victory Day celebrations in Moscow commemorating the 62nd anniversary of the defeat of Nazi Germany President Putin noted that Unfortunately not everybody understands that Russia lost more people in this war than the rest of the world combined That s the way it is but we pay tribute to the memory of all victims of Nazism This includes anti fascists in Germany itself It includes our allies in World War II Here at least Russia s President has a point Western citizens are typically unaware of the immense suffering and sacrifice endured by the Soviet people during 1941 1945 The war is a source of pride for many Russians today and it is likely to remain so for future generations who desperately

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/2007/05/07/pot-versus-kettle/ (2016-04-26)
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  • Dictatorship of the Air » Avia-Corner
    been restored Awakened to the impending doom of total war the saber rattler in Melbourne has stepped back from the precipice Yielding to the unified voice of those millions who desire Internet harmony Mr Holman has turned his sword like challenge into a ploughshare of cooperative and solicitous thoughts We extend fraternal greetings to Mr Holman for his wise and beneficent decision We rejoice in our return to the collective labor of constructing an air minded blogosphere May children know only happiness and joy May clouds of war never darken the horizon May there always be sunshine Though we remain ever vigilant Discussion 1 World War Tune April 3 2007 1 05 pm Filed in Avia Corner Music Popular Culture Video The wolf has cast aside his sheep s clothing Without warning without a formal declaration Brett Holman the autocrat of Australian airmindness has perpetrated an act of stunning aural aggression He has revealed his true bellicose nature The toady of Trenchard has responded to my peace loving post of the Handsome Family s Amelia Earhart versus the Dancing Bear with an unwarranted and premeditated provocation In a shameless surprise assault launched from his South Pacific lair he has attempted to overwhelm my pop cultural defenses by linking to three aviation related music videos on his blog With cunning and duplicity the salivating cur has brazenly challenged me to a YouTube duel Posting the Lucksmiths was a clever and unexpected ploy And the ethereal though highly tangential Lisa Gerrard almost lulled me into complacency But the lickspittle Holman erred grievously He invited the People s scorn and wrath by unleashing the gaseous OMD How quickly the sycophants of 80s synth pop forget The Avia Corner is alert to such tactics and prepared to do battle War has commenced Continue Reading Discussion 3 Amelia Earhart Mystery Solved April 1 2007 11 15 am Filed in 1930s Accidents Avia Corner Just kidding April Fools Still according to a story appearing this morning via the Associated Press the seventy year old mystery surrounding Amelia Earhart s disappearance may soon be put to rest thanks to new perspectives provided by a recently discovered diary The article reports that The International Group for Historic Aircraft Recovery TIGHAR which for years has been leading efforts to confirm Earhart s crash site on an uninhabited atoll recently acquired the diary once belonging to James W Carey Carey was an AP reporter who had been dispatched to the south Pacific in 1937 to cover the flight of Earhart and co pilot Fred J Noonan from New Guinea to Howland Island one of the last and most dangerous legs of their around the world flight Of course Earhart and Noonan never arrived on Howland Instead they disappeared somewhere over the ocean It turns out that Carey was aboard the US Coast Guard cutter Itasca anchored off Howland From there he was able to listen in on the radio reports dispatched from Earhart s Lockheed Electra The contents of the

    Original URL path: http://www.dictatorshipoftheair.com/browse/avia-corner/page/10/ (2016-04-26)
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