Deceased Russian and American commanders of the top-secret, World War II mission “Project Zebra” will be among the ghosts haunting this year's Historic Ghost Walk.
When Hitler destroyed 80 percent of the Soviet air force during the early days of World War II, the decorated Russian air hero, Colonel Maxim Chibisov, was personally selected by Joseph Stalin to fly to Elizabeth City, N.C., with 300 Soviet airmen. There he was met by 11 skilled Navy pilots and crews under the direction of U.S. Navy Commander, Stanley Chernack.
The mission called Project Zebra spanned 18 months. While living in Elizabeth City, the men worked long hours learning to operate a huge, technically advanced amphibious plane nicknamed “the flying boat” which was by built by American workers in Philadelphia. By mission’s end, 185 planes were delivered to the North Atlantic and Pacific theaters where they flew hundreds of combat missions without losing a single plane.
“Much about Project Zebra has been lost in time, since the mission remained top-secret until early 2013,” said author, M.G. Crisci, who has written the first complete book about the mission. The book also covers the town’s supportive relationship and the lifetime friendships the Soviet and American Zebras would cultivate through the Cold War and beyond.
The official on-sale date is Nov. 1 for the book, Project Zebra. Roosevelt and Stalin’s Top-Secret Mission to Train 300 Soviet Airmen in America. (Orca Publishing USA, $32.95, hardover, 354 pages and 200-plus photographs). A video trailer is posted on his Youtube channel. ( http://bit.ly/2xEOIqW )
“According to their diaries, notes, and conversations with family and friends, both men remembered their stay in Elizabeth City, and vowed to one day return,” said Crisci.
“And, what better time for these two men to return than Ghost Walk,” said Elizabeth City Mayor Joesph Peel. “Rumor has it they may even spend a bit of time around the booth where Crisci will be signing first edition copies of his book.”
Manhattan-born M.G. Crisci (mgcrisci.com) is the author of ten books based on true stories or real events in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, drama, and romance.