The aerosani, or aero-sleigh, was a propeller-driven sled, first appearing on the front in WWI and in even greater numbers in WWII. The powerful sled was particularly suited to Russia’s challenging northern clime and facilitated the Soviet Union’s aspirations towards Arctic colonization and exploration. Aero-sleighs were not an exclusively Soviet (or Russian) phenomenon, but they were embraced, produced, and fully branded by Soviet-Russian power in the pages of the children’s book, in popular and elite journals, and in film. Photo-journalist Roman Karmen's account of a new model's test run between Leningrad and Moscow was highly publicized not only in this children's book, but also in magazines and newspapers for adults and children alike. Another of Karmen's photographs from nearly this same angle and position, with the exception of the figure at left, was featured as a postcard.
Postcard produced by Izogiz.
The propeller is key to the symbolic the power of the sled, transforming a traditional sleigh into an airplane which can “fly” across the snow.
The snowy road stretches into the distance. Its interminability projects an impossibly long journey before the horse. The aerosani -- with blades blurred in motion -- visually dominate the path before them as embodiment of their dominance on the field of travel in forward momentum.
This juxtaposition of new and old was a common trope in adult and children’s image culture of this period. Scientific innovation in particular was highly prized as a marker of progress in a new Soviet state, and the aerosani claimed right of place in this facet of the Soviet imaginary.