Introducing Our Student Translator: Sam Unruh

Last summer, Sam Unruh came to the Air Museum as an intern helping with cataloging records in the database and putting his Russian language skills to use.  The museum has many Russian artifacts relating to the Lend Lease Program dating 1941-1944, which ran right through Fairbanks at Ladd Army Airfield.  Sam has been able to aid in the translation the objects; including pins, texts, posters, and banners, just to name a few.  Now Sam works full time as a front desk attendant and has continued to translate for us. Thanks, Sam!
1. What is your background?
I am originally from Eagle River, Alaska, and have lived in Fairbanks the last six years. Currently, I’m a junior at the University of Alaska Fairbanks (UAF) and I am currently studying foreign languages and criminal justice.

2.     What got you interested in museum work?
Ever since I was a kid, I’ve enjoyed going to museums and learning about the history behind the artifacts.

3.     What brought you to the Pioneer Air Museum?
A family friend told me about a volunteer position at the museum, so I thought I should give it a try. I came in one afternoon to talk about the job, and it turned out they were looking for a Russian-speaking aircraft enthusiast. I was thrilled when I had gotten the position.

4.     What is your favorite thing about Alaska?
There are many things I like about Alaska, but if I had to pick one, it would be the rich history of aviation.

5.     Please tell us a little about your background with Russian.
I have been learning Russian for five years now, and I’d say I’m at least halfway decent when speaking it. My interest in Russian is mainly because I’m part Russian, and I’ve thought that it is a pretty cool language. Another reason is because I thought learning Russian would provide a good linguistic challenge, seeing as it is one of the more difficult languages.

5.     What’s your most memorable aeronautical experience?
A little over four years ago, I took an introductory flight lesson. I already had many hours of simulator experience, so it wasn’t very difficult learning the controls of a Cessna 172.

6.     What is the most interesting thing you’ve found in the museum?
I think the most interesting thing I’ve found is the journals about the lend-lease during World War II. When I’ve gotten around to translating them, they have provided a pretty good insight on what the lend-lease was like for the Soviet pilots.

Below are images of the handwritten and drawn Russian Journal.  Pioneer Air Museum collection. 

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