Replicas of the Fliers and Explorers Globe

3.7aaCreators of the Fliers’ and Explorers’ Globe Replicas: 
Left to right:  Alex Cao, Keith Forbes, Valery Chkalov, Jerry Dobson, Stace Wright, Mark Williams, Todd Ulrich, and Bill Ulrich.

In 2002, AGS first conceived the idea of a limited run of high-quality Flier’s and Explorers’ Globe replicas and there was substantial interest.  Immediately an inquiry was begun to find a firm qualified to undertake such a project and after a long search, Eureka Cartography of Berkeley, California was selected.  Because a sponsor for the project was yet to be identified, Eureka was not notified of their selection until nine years later.  In 2011, Mikhail Slipenchuk, the Director General of Metropol, expressed interest in sponsoring the project.Slipenchuk was inspired to support the project through his admiration of Valery Chkalov who was a globe signer in 1937.

Most people are surprised to learn what a unique undertaking it was to replicate the globe.  There is a lot of experience making a globe from the whole Earth.  Imagery and software are available, and projections have been standardized over centuries.  What made this project different however, was that there are no known cases of anyone making a globe from another globe, so everything about this project was developed from scratch.

2004The twelve replica globes at the factory, World FX in Cincinatti, Ohio, just as they were being prepared to be shipped.

Eureka hired acclaimed still-life photographer, Alex Cao of New York City to photograph the original globe.  Alex took 550 precisely registered photographs, which Eureka then georegistered and mosaicked into an integrated surface of the whole earth.  Eureka sent that data surface to World FX, Inc. of Cincinnati, Ohio where Todd Ulrich turned them into 24 gores and, with the help of his brother, Bill, bonded each gore to a 20-inch diameter fiberglass sphere.  Ultimately the whole globe was covered with a protective vinyl coating, the same material used to protect race cars.


Simultaneously, Valery Chkalov contracted with Forbes Cabinets of Eureka, California to make twelve redwood stands for the replicas, plus one for the original, all exact copies of the stand that was used when his grandfather signed the globe in 1937.  Each of the stands is crafted from curly-grain stump wood for the horizontal ring and straight-grain wood salvaged from old water tanks for the legs and crossbeams. 

The replicas are numbered A-1 through A-6 for the American series and R-1 through R-6 for the Russian series.

One of the American series’ replicas is on display in the American Geographical Society’s headquarters in Brooklyn Heights, New York.