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The twentieth century can be safely called the century of aviation. Someone went down in history by the fact that they did a lot for aeronautics from a scientific point of view, set records, opened up new opportunities.
And there are pilots who have made a name for themselves through two world wars. In any case, the profession of a pilot has become romantic, and all thanks to its most famous representatives.
Wright brothers. Wilber (1867-1912) and Orville (1871-1948) Wright are credited with inventing the world's first airplane. It is to these Americans that in most countries the priority of such a fateful invention is assigned. True, the championship is contested by Alberto Santos-Dumont. The Wright brothers' apparatus was not only able to take off, but also to carry out a controlled flight. For the first time, something heavier than air with an engine was in the air. It happened on December 17, 1903. A couple of years later, the Wright brothers created the first aircraft in history that could be practically used. And even if the experimental aircraft of the Americans was not the first in history, it was these pilots who were the first to fly it. As a result, the aircraft industry took a truly first serious step. The brothers' fundamental discovery was their discovery of the three axes of rotation of the aircraft. This allowed the pilots to maintain the balance of the aircraft during the flight and control the aircraft. It should be noted that this method became the main method for controlling all types of aircraft, and remains so today. If in those days other testers focused on installing powerful motors, the Wright brothers were engaged in the study of the theory of flight and the principles of aircraft control. They conducted research with a wind tunnel, which allowed for more advanced wings and propellers. The inventors even received a patent for the aerodynamic control system, which was carried out using the surfaces of the aircraft. And the pilots gained their technical knowledge by selling bicycles, printing mechanisms, engines and other equipment in their own shop. Now the first aircraft of the Wright brothers are in museums, being a national monument of the United States. Although these pilots were more inventors, they were not afraid to be the first to sit at the helm of the technical means they created, unusual at that time.
Louis Bleriot (1872-1936). As with the Wright brothers, this pilot was both an inventor and a businessman. Bleriot was an engineer, starting in 1895 to manufacture lanterns. The general passion for aeronautics did not pass him by - the Frenchman first built an ornithopter, and then, in 1907, his first airplane. In 1908, Bleriot was able to contemplate the piloting skill of one of the Wright brothers, which shocked him. Another eyewitness, the English Lord Northcliffe, even set a thousand pounds reward for the first person to cross the English Channel by plane. It was believed that Wilbur Wright would become the main competitor. However, he returned to the States, after an unsuccessful attempt by the Frenchman Hubert Latham, Louis Blériot accepted the challenge. On July 25, 1909, he took to the air, but halfway through the plane began to drift north. However, the pilot noticed a deviation from the route and was able to correct course. After a 37-minute flight, over a 23-mile journey, Bleriot landed in England. This victory had great consequences for the development of aircraft construction. The pilot himself became the first Frenchman to be officially promoted to pilot. Many believed that the design of the French monoplane was more promising than the biplanes of the Americans and the British. Bleriot managed to collect many orders for the production of his aircraft. The pilot was not afraid to try and change the design, he made a record flight on his eleventh plane, while the Wright brothers brought their creation to perfection. During the First World War, Bleriot's company produced more than 10 thousand cars, serving a lot to the fact that the aircraft became, albeit a weapon, but massive.
Peter Nesterov (1887-1914). In those days, flying an airplane was a risky business. No one really knew the capabilities of the new tool, and its design itself left much to be desired. Peter Nesterov lived a bright and short life, having managed to show what airplanes are capable of. In 1910, an artillery officer became interested in aviation. In 1912, the lieutenant had already made his first independent flight. The very next year, Nesterov headed the flight squad. It should be noted that this pilot was also a designer. In those days, improving aircraft was common and sometimes even necessary. Nesterov himself modified his aircraft, developed new engines, and even planned to create a single-seat high-speed aircraft. The pilot, having knowledge in mechanics and mathematics, having experience in aerobatics, theoretically proved the possibility of performing deep turns, and then practically implemented it. It was the Russian pilot who made a closed loop in the vertical plane in 1913. The era of aerobatics began with a dead loop (Nesterov's loop). On September 8, 1914, Pyotr Nesterov made his last flight. He tried to strike the landing gear of his plane on the wing of the enemy Albatross. However, the pilot miscalculated and his light "Moran" rammed the enemy from above. The collision proved fatal to all pilots. And Nesterov went down in history as the first pilot to ram.
Manfred von Richthofen (1892-1918). With the outbreak of World War I, the opposing sides began to use a new weapon - aircraft. At first they were simply engaged in reconnaissance, but then fighters appeared. The most famous pilot-ace of the First World War was the "Red Baron", Manfred von Richthofen. On his account there were 80 shot down enemy aircraft. The legendary pilot met the beginning of the war in the cavalry. However, this branch of the military quickly bored him, and in 1915 Richthofen transferred to aviation. At first, he was exclusively engaged in intelligence. On September 17, 1916, the Baron shot down the first enemy, ordering a goblet with an engraved date of the battle and the type of aircraft shot down. As a result, Richtofen amassed 60 such memorabilia. The pilot, like many of his colleagues, was rather superstitious. Before each flight, he received a kiss from his beloved, which even became a kind of tradition among other military pilots. In January 1917, 16 downed vehicles were already listed on Richtofen's account. He received the highest military award of the country - the order "Pour le Merite", he was entrusted with the leadership of the squadron "Jasta 11". His red-painted plane terrified the enemy. Jasta 11 includes many German aces, including Ernst Udet. The group was stationed in tents, not far from the front line. For its mobility, the squadron was even nicknamed the "air circus". The legendary pilot died on April 21, 1918, a bullet hit the Red Baron from the ground.
Charles Lindbergh (1902-1974). The First World War died down, aircraft construction developed by leaps and bounds. The records followed one after another. In 1919, American businessman Raymond Orteig offered $ 25,000 to the pilot who would be the first to make a direct flight from New York to Paris. Many pilots tried to break the jackpot, but either interrupted the flight or died. Charles Lindbergh also decided to enter the competition. By that time, he already had his own plane, the experience of independent flights. Lindbergh found sponsors, specifically for his order, a company from San Diego released a single-engine monoplane. At the same time, the pilot himself took part in the design. The aircraft was named the Spirit of St. Louis. The first serious test took place on May 10-11, 1927. Lindbergh flew from San Diego to New York in 20 hours, spending the night in St. Louis. And on May 20, a historic flight took place. Lindbergh took off from Roosevelt airfield in New York at 7:52 and ended up at Le Bourget at 17:21. For this feat, Charles Lindbergh received worldwide fame. The pilot was the first in the United States to be awarded the Flying Merit Cross. To Lindbergh's credit, it is worth noting that he continued to popularize aviation. The pilot attracts investment in the research of Robert Goddard, a rocket science pioneer. At the request of the American authorities, Lindbergh visits Latin American countries. Together with his wife, the pilot travels around the world, plotting new routes for airlines. Lindbergh even took part in the development of an artificial heart. During the Second World War, the pilot was a military adviser and even managed to carry out about fifty combat missions, while he was developing autopilot methods. In the post-war years, Lindbergh became a general, he writes books, travels, is engaged in social activities, protecting nature.
Amelia Earhart (1897-1937). Over time, aviation began to attract women as well. One of the pioneers was Amelia Earhart, a brave writer who opened the way to heaven for the fairer sex. By 1920, Amelia received an excellent education, learned 4 languages. The girl's fate changed when she made her first flight as a passenger in 1920. Deciding to become a pilot, Amelia tried many professions to pay for her training. At the same time, she learned everything about aviation - from flight theory to engine design. In the summer of 1921, Earhart bought her first aircraft, and in October 1922, she set her first world record, flying to an altitude of 4300 meters. In the wake of the growing popularity of aviation, the name of the brave pilot became famous. In 1923 she received her license, becoming the 16th woman with such a document. After the flight of Lindbergh across the Pacific, it was time for women to prove that they were capable of it. Wealthy American Amy Guest raised funds, but could not carry out the flight herself. Then the task was set - to find a bold and attractive pilot, which became Amelia Earhart. On June 17, 1928, together with two pilots, she flew from Newfoundland to Wales, however, more as a passenger. Nevertheless, the pilot became world famous. She turned her fame to the struggle for the rights of women, attracting them to traditionally male professions, including aviation. Earhart was at the forefront of commercial air travel, traveling constantly throughout the country to lecture. In 1929, Earhart helped found the organization of women pilots, becoming its first president. She masters heavy vehicles, setting a speed record of 197 miles per hour. In 1932, Earhart made a solo flight across the Atlantic, becoming the second person after Lindbergh to do so. This achievement brought the pilot worldwide fame and many awards. By the mid-1930s, Earhart had become one of the most famous people in America. She is friends with the president's family, holds many air records, and promotes flights. In 1937, Amelia decided to fly around the world, accompanied by navigator Fred Noonan. In the Central Pacific Ocean, near Howland Island, Amelia's plane went missing. The US Navy launched a massive search operation that became the most expensive in the history of the Navy. On January 5, 1939, the brave pilot was officially declared dead. No traces of the plane were found, so the secret of the disappearance of the crew has been preserved to this day.
Valery Chkalov (1904-1938). When Chkalov first saw the plane, he was 15 years old, and he worked as a fireman on the ship. After that, he achieved admission to flight school, learning aerobatics, shooting, bombing and aerial combat. In 1924, a military fighter pilot ended up in the Leningrad Nesterov Air Squadron. There Chkalov showed himself not only as a brave pilot, but also as a daring one. For his risky stunts in the air, the pilot was repeatedly removed from practice by the leadership, and once even flew under the bridge. Chkalov's military career did not work out - either he was convicted of drunken fights, or his recklessness ended in accidents. Only at the request of the top leadership of the army, the pilot was not in prison, but in reserve. In 1933, Chkalov moved to a new job - a test pilot of the Moscow Aviation Plant. Here, a lot of experimental machines passed through the pilot's hands, he himself developed new aerobatics - an ascending spin and a slow roll. In 1935, pilots Chkalov, Baidukov and Belyakov suggested that the country's leadership fly from the USSR to the United States through the North Pole. However, Stalin proposed to first overcome another route - from Moscow to Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky. For this successful flight in 1936, the entire crew was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. Chkalov became a national hero. And in 1937, the same crew flew in difficult conditions through the Arctic to Vancouver, Washington. The brave crew was greeted by all of America and received by President Roosevelt. Chkalov became a People's Deputy of the USSR, Stalin himself suggested that he head the NKVD, but the pilot refused. On December 15, 1938, the tester died while flying the new I-180 fighter.
Erich Alfred Hartmann (1922-1993). World War II spawned new hero pilots. And if in the Soviet media Pokryshkin and Kozhedub were extolled, then the Western press certainly considered the German, Erich Hartmann, the best ace. Indeed, during his 1,525 sorties, he managed to shoot down 352 aircraft, of which only 7 were not Soviet. Before the war, Hartmann piloted gliders, joining the Luftwaffe in 1940. In 1942 he completed pilot courses and was sent to the Eastern Front. Erich proved to be an excellent sniper and a diligent student, having managed to master his technique perfectly. Hartmann was lucky to get into the famous JG 52 fighter squadron, where he was surrounded by famous aces. The young pilot quickly adopted the tactics of success. He did not seek to enter an air carousel with enemy fighters, preferring to attack from an ambush. Hartmann paid particular attention to the first blow. By October 1943, the ace had 148 shot down planes, he had already managed to visit the front line, escape from there and receive the knight's cross. Such rapid successes even forced the Luftwaffe headquarters to check the pilot's victories, but they were all confirmed. On August 17, 1944, Hartmann surpassed his friend Gerhard Barkhorn in the number of victories. A week later, the number of aircraft shot down was 300. For this, Hartmann was awarded the Diamond Knight's Cross. The legendary ace reached his last victory on May 8, 1945, after Germany signed the capitulation. After the end of the war, the pilot ended up in Soviet captivity, where he was sentenced to 25 years in prison. In 1955, Hartmann was released early, he returned to Germany, where he trained pilots.
Ivan Kozhedub (1920-1991). Ivan Kozhedub managed to become the most famous Soviet ace during the Second World War. Like many Soviet youths, at the call of the state, the future pilot was engaged in the flying club. The war found him an instructor at the Chuguev Aviation School. Constantly trying to go to the front, Kozhedub managed to sleep there only in March 1943. By that time, both Soviet pilots had gained experience in combat, and the aircraft had become competitive. Only on July 6, 1943, during the battles on the Kursk Bulge, during his fortieth sortie, Kozhedub shot down his first plane. On February 4, 1944, the pilot received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for 20 German aircraft shot down. Already in August, he was found by the second Star, by that time on account of the ace there were 48 shot down enemy vehicles.Unlike Hartmann, the Soviet pilot preferred to open fire from afar, not approaching the enemy. Ivan Kozhedub met Victory in the rank of major, shooting down 62 aircraft. He himself was not shot down even once. On August 18, 1945, the renowned ace received his Third Hero Star. At the end of hostilities, Kozhedub continued to serve in aviation, he graduated from the Air Force Academy, and then the General Staff Academy. During the Korean War, Kozhedub again found himself at the front, this time as the commander of an air division. In 1985, the famous pilot became an Air Marshal.
Marina Popovich (born 1931). In 1951, the girl graduated from an aviation technical school in Novosibirsk, becoming an instructor. The passion for flying was so overwhelming that Marina won the right to serve in the army so that she could fly jet fighters. Since 1960, Popovich began piloting aircraft of this class, soon becoming the only female 1st class test pilot. Marina even was a candidate for astronauts. The pilot on the MiG-21 was the first woman to break the sound barrier. Over the past few years, she has managed to set 102 world records, such achievements have become her work. These are records for the speed and range of various aircraft and their classes. At the same time, the woman set her ten records at the wheel of the giant plane Antey. It is no coincidence that Marina Popovich is a member of the legendary American club "99". In total, the famous pilot has mastered more than 40 types of aircraft; even a star in the constellation of Cancer is named after her.