The Last Crossing of the USSR

On August 19, 1991, the world watched in awe as the Soviet Union was rocked by a coup d’etat that would change the face of Eastern Europe forever. And just as the reign of Communism was ending, an American-owned Cessna 185 left Soviet airspace after an historic flight across Russia to promote international friendship through aviation.

“Viktor, Vodka and Raw Fish is one of the best documentaries on Russia I have even seen.  A rare glimpse inside the aviation world of the Russian Bear.” – Jim Dalby, President/Cheif Executive Office, San Diego Air and Space Museum

“Aviation is now an everyday routine. The days of adventure are past. But occasionally the delight of pioneering flight is recaptured. John Proctor has obliged – handsomely – with this single engine odyssey along the 8,000 mile length of the Sovie Union, just before its demise.” – Ron Davies, Air Transport Historian and Author

“There are a lot of ‘talkers’ in the aviation business, but only a few ‘doers.’ John is a ‘doer.'” – Merv Halliday, Past President, New Zealand Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association (AOPA-NZ)

…And a review by David Cooke in the April 1995 issue of APOA of Australia magazine –

VICTOR, VODKA AND RAW FISH Book by John M. Proctor

“Can you imagine flying a Cessna 185 across the then USSR? I certainly could not, nor in fact did I know that not only was it possible, but it had been done in 1991 just before the Soviet Union collapsed. I sat down one afternoon to have a quick look at the beginning of this video to decide when to review it and ended up spellbound and riveted to my sear. My wife too, who normally finds something else to do what I watch flying videos, was unable to draw herself away until it was finished…”

“Living the dream says it all! But it also takes guts to fly a 50 year old, 15 ton antique flying boar, 35,000 miles. John and Joyce did the job! Congratulations and well done!” – Ernest J. King, Director of Development, Space Shuttle Life Support Systems



“Viktor, Vodka. and Raw Fish”

“Viktor, Vodka. and Raw Fish” is the captivating tale of that voyage, an internationally sanctioned flight that was the first American crossing of Russia since the Lindberghs’ expeditions in 1937, and the last flight across the old U.S.S.R. Join author/pilot John Proctor and photographer Rick Roessler, along with the famed Russian pilot Viktor Smolin and a supporting cast of unique characters, on this journey through a fascinating foreign culture on the eve of an intriguing era of change.


Have you been back to Russia?

Yes,I took my Grumman HU16-C, the “Wingabeggo”, N4WT, through Eastern Siberia, stopping on the Chinese border for fuel and dropped off Russian Navigator in 1995. I have film out on that 18 month sojurn around the Pacific Rim for 18 months: BOAT IN THE SKY…

Do you need special license to fly internationally?

You can fly internationally with a US License if you are operating a US registered aircraft for personal/ business use. You have to comply with each country’s rules and regulations. English is “spoken”?? at most major or port of entry airports. Lots of red tape!!

Do you keep in touch with Rick Roessler or Viktor Smolin?

Yes, I stay in touch with “Komrad Roesslor”. One year he gave me a “souvenir” can of Russian Fish for my birthday! That was pretty much what we had to eat. Lots of canned fish!!

Do you still have the Cessna 185 you flew across Russia?

Yes, I still have the trusty Skywagon. The plane is here in Texas.

Do you have any advice for pilots wanting to fly around the world?


  1. It costs lots of money (fuel is $10 to $20 per gallon).
  2. Handling fees, permits, etc can be costly.
  3. It helps if you are at least an A&P Mechanic (U.S. Certified Airframe & Powerplant) to address mechanical issues.
  4. Foreign lubricants (oil) sometimes do not match what we use.
  5. I have been around the world twice (Cessna 185 & Grumman Flying Boat). During these trips I ran very expensive ($65 and up each, 2 per cylinder) iridium or platnium fine wire spark plugs. They do NOT foul as easy.
  6. If you have a positive personality, patience and respect for foreign peoples you will probably have a good time. Lots of memories!!


Depart for Bangor, Maine

June 29, 1991

Depart for Moncton, Canada

July 1, 1991

Canadian Customs

July 2, 1991

Depart for Sondrestrom

July 3, 1991

Depart for Reykjavik

July 4, 1991

Depart for Glasgow, Scotland – Arrive Stornoway

July 5, 1991

Depart for London, England

July 6, 1991

London, England

July 7, 1991

Depart for Biggin Hill, arrive Lelystad, Holland

July 9, 1991

Depart for Arnheim, Holland

July 10, 1991

Depart to Augsburg, Germany

July 12, 1991

Depart for Barth, Germany, continue to Helsinki, Finland

July 14, 1991

Helsinki, Finland

July 15, 1991

Russian Embassy

July 16, 1991

Depart to Leningrad

July 17, 1991

Rick arrives Leningrad

July 18, 1991

Sightseeing Leningrad

July 19, 1991

Viktor Tours Leningrad

July 20, 1991

Depart to Bozky Field

July 21, 1991

See page 73

Depart for Moscow

July 22, 1991

See page 79/80.

Tour of Moscow

July 23, 1991

See page 86.

Moscow Space Center

July 24, 1991

See page 89.

Visit with Mrs. Gromov

July 25, 1991

See page 94.

Sightseeing in Moscow

July 26, 1991

Depart for Chelyabinsk

July 27, 1991

See page 106.

Depart for Novosibirsk

July 28, 1991

Viktor Returns to Moscow, Riding with The Colonel

July 29, 1991

See pages 126-130.

John Gives English Lessons

July 30, 1991

See page 131.

MIL-2 Helicopter Flight

July 31, 1991

See pages 133.

Abandoned: Jail and Russian Helicopters

August 1, 1991

See page 141.

Wilga Plane – Motorcycle Ride – Depart for Marinsk

August 2, 1991

See page 149.

Depart for Krasnoyarsk

August 3, 1991

Depart for Bratsk

August 4, 1991

Depart for Kirensk

August 5, 1991

See pages 176.

Depart for Yakutsk

August 6, 1991

See page 181.

Visiting Yakutsk

August 7, 1991

Depart for Magadan

August 8, 1991

See page 195.

Depart for Ohotsk

August 9, 1991

See page 197.

Big Ivan

August 10, 1991

See page 218.


August 11, 1991

See page 224.

Chess, Stress, and the Bana

August 12, 1991

See page 229.

Socked in Weather

August 13, 1991

See page 234.

Bad Weather and Vlad

August 14, 1991

See page 235.

Hand Propping the Cessna

August 15, 1991

See page 243.

Smoke and MIGs

August 16, 1991

See page 248.

Anadyr Shopping

August 17, 1991

See page 252.

Depart for Provideniya

August 18, 1991

See page 258.

Arrive – Nome, Alaska, United States

August 18, 1991

See page 263

Breakfast in Nome and Depart for Fairbanks

August 19, 1991

See page 265.

News of Coupe d’etat

August 20, 1991

See page 270.