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Gliding in Russia - What the U. S. S. R. Has Done to Develop Gliding
May 1934 Flying Aces

May 1934 Flying Aces

Flying Aces May 1934 - Airplanes and Rockets3 Table of Contents

These pages from vintage modeling magazines like Flying Aces, Air Trails, American Modeler, American Aircraft Modeler, Young Men, Flying Models, Model Airplane News, R/C Modeler, captured the era. All copyrights acknowledged.

The spell checker sure gets a workout with stories from these vintage magazines, specially ones from in the 1920s and 1930s. Common words were sometimes spelled a bit differently than today, and other words are rarely seen anymore. And then there is the mix of foreign words and names of people and places relating to World War I, which had only ended ten to fifteen years prior (1919). Such is the case here in this 1934 issue of Flying Aces magazine in a piece called "Gliding in Russia," and even more so in the fictional wartime stories like "The Ghost from G−2." The "Iron Curtain" is a term adopted at the end of World War II to describe the imaginary line through Europe that divided Russia's Communist world from the Western Democracies; however, Iron Curtain was also used in World War I. Russia had for a long time endeavored to keep its citizens from learning about the benefits earned by peoples of free nations, including superior medical care, food, clothing, appliances, transportation, housing, mental health, etc. At the same time it kept outsiders from reporting on the internal situation of its territories. You can be sure that stories like this one were orchestrated by the Bolsheviks of the Politburo for the benefit of invited media to project an image of a thriving, content, open society. In fact they were what would during the Vietnam era become known as a Potemkin Village - a scenario constructed to give a positive public face to an otherwise pathetic existence.

Gliding in Russia - What the U. S. S. R. Has Done to Develop Gliding

Tailless glider "Parabel" designed by Russian, Tchernovski - Airplanes and Rockets

One of those strange-looking tailless planes. Here you see the tailless glider "Parabel" - designed by the Russian, Tchernovski - which made its first flight at the Ninth All Union Gliding Meet held in the Crimea last fall.

Illustrated Fact Article

By Kurt K. Siemon

Author of "Gliding in Germany."

Russia can look back on only ten years of gliding history - yet enormous strides have been made in the development of this sport. Since that day back in 1923, when Moscow saw the birth of the first gliding club, many meets have been held and records spectacularly broken. Read this month the history of some of the high spots in gliding, as the Soviets have seen them.

Photographs from Soviet Photo Agency

Now that we as a nation have recognized Soviet Russia, we are more interested than ever before in the accomplishments of that nation. In fifteen years of desperate efforts against the resistance of world capital and world opinion, the leaders of Soviet Russia have succeeded in bringing their nation to the fore with rapid strides. Vast achievements in its various industries are cited. Aircraft factories are working full blast to produce bigger and better airplanes. And gliders are playing an important part, for Russia realizes how valuable gliding is for preliminary flight training at relatively low cost.

Soviet Russia looks back upon ten years of gliding history. In 1923 the first gliding club was organized in Moscow. In the same year the first Soviet gliding meet was held at Koktebel on the Crimean Peninsula on the northern shore of the Black Sea. The following year a couple of Russian pilots went to the German meet at the Wasserkuppe in the Rhoen, and here they studied German methods, exchanged ideas and experience. The German pilots were invited for a return visit to Russia for the following year. They accepted, and in 1925 a German gliding expedition went to the Crimea.

Enthusiastic about the excellent Soviet soaring site, the German boys made gliding history The late Ferdinand Schulz, Germany's gliding ace at that time, established a new world's endurance record of twelve hours and six minutes, and Nehring, flying the Darmstadt "Consul," put the world distance record up to fifteen miles. The Germans, having demonstrated the great possibilities of the Soviet gliding terrain, were instrumental in establishing the Uzum-Syot Mountain, renamed Mount Klementiev, with its many ridges, as the center of Soviet gliding activities. Under the supervision of Russia's best soaring pilot, Stepanchenok, a gliding school was established there.

Ninth All Union Gliding Meet - Airplanes and Rockets

Lined up for the start. Here are a few of the gliders which helped to make the Ninth All Union Gliding Meet interesting. Sixteen different types of gliding machines took part in this meet.

Kharkov record-breaking glider, Ossoaviakhim DR-5 - Airplanes and Rockets

The Kharkov record-breaking glider, "Ossoaviakhim DR-5," after taking off. This machine has two seats - one for a passenger - and holds the world altitude record for a flight with a passenger.

Gliders used as training ships in the Moscow district of Russia - Airplanes and Rockets

One of the gliders used as training ships in the Moscow district of Russia. To these the young air fans come from building model planes - and from them they go to real airplanes - and become full-fledged pilots. It's all a matter of training.

Moscow gliding enthusiasts examining waving wings of Letatlin - Airplanes and Rockets

More gliders in the Moscow section of Russia. Here you see gliding enthusiasts examining the waving wings of the Letatlin, the most technically interesting glider of all.

Best glider pilot of Russia, Stepanchenok - Airplanes and Rockets

Famous folk in Russia's gliding world. At the left is Eidemann, high official of the Society for the Promotion of Aviation and Chemistry. And at the right is the best glider pilot of Russia - Stepanchenok.

Many other clubs and schools were founded in other parts of the Union, too, and the seventh Soviet gliding meet in 1931 was a real contest. From all parts of the U.S.S.R., 218 pilots and 27 machines found their way to that semi-island, the Crimea. The steady breezes sweeping in from the Black Sea - sometimes without any shifting in direction for days - provided a hard competition. Gone were the days of timid experiments.

This meet was organized in three different categories: beginners, advanced glider pilot and soaring pilots. After the meeting, however, it was realized that an entirely different classification had to be made, and also that the number of contestants had to be reduced in order to enable the more talented pilots to make more flights and, if possible, to stay aloft longer. To exercise good comradeship by giving everyone in the group an equal chance to fly is all very well, but it limits the number of flights for the individual. The less able members increase the hazard of damaging the machines, too, and thus endanger the success of the group as a whole and retard the progress of the program. For this reason no extraordinary performance was shown this time.

The following year, from October 3rd to 9th, the eighth Soviet gliding contest was held. A new system, worked out in the meantime, proved to be a great success. During that time only forty pilots and twenty-two soaring planes took part, and yet they flew a total sum of 760 hours, as against 100 the year before.

Osoaviakhim DR-5, a newly constructed two-seater, designed by Kovalenko and built at the Kharkov airplane plant, soared to a new height of 6380 feet under the skillful hands of Pleskoff, one of Russia's gliding aces. Gavrisch, another well-known soaring pilot, climbed in the single-seater class to an altitude of 7325 feet, while Golowin got the first prize for endurance with one passenger in the time of ten hours and fifty-six minutes, Borodin managed to stay up for four hours and one minute with two passengers.

For the first time in Soviet gliding history, an aerial train was demonstrated during the meet. Towed by an airplane, Stepanchenok flew in Glider G-9, a distance of 1055 miles from Moscow to Koktebel in nineteen hours and ten minutes. This able Russian pilot distinguished himself also in different other fields. In a two-hour flight, besides flying upside-down for one minute and eight seconds, he made 115 loops between turns, wing-overs and spins. On another flight Stepanchenok established a new world record of 29 consecutive loops, a record which has since been broken by the American glider ace, Jack O'Meara, with 46 loops.

The year 1933 can be called the turning point in the history of Soviet gliding. After ten years, real mass interest and support was apparent. In the middle of last August, about fifty to sixty soaring planes gathered at Mount Clementiev at the opening of the ninth All Union Conference of Gliders, combined with the fourth contest of airplane model builders.

Among the well designed and well built ships were five tailless planes. One of these, an entry from Leningrad, constructed by Kostenko, had a wing span of forty-four and a half feet and weighed only two hundred and twenty pounds, including instruments and parachute. Another quite unusual design was incorporated in the tailless "Parabel," by Tchernovski. But the most interesting glider was found to be the "Letatlin," which was shaped like a bird, similar to the early experiments of the pioneers of twenty to thirty years ago. It had waving wings, which were moved by the pilot. This experimental job is one more attempt at the perfect human flight

Of quite a novel design was the sea-glider, "HA-2 Alkanis," constructed by Gribovski and built at the Tushino glider plant near Moscow. Sea-gliders should find a wide application in the Soviet Union, with its abundance of rivers and lakes. The best construction was found in plane "GH-2," a high-performance ship built by the Komsomol (young communist) Grushev. Another outstanding designer is Antonov, who at an age of twenty-nine has already built thirteen planes. Then there was the beautiful two-seater for stunting by Kovalenko and the huge passenger glider, "MKB-7," for six passengers.

During the contest, the komsomol-built "2-K," manned by the komsomol pilot, Simikow, covered a distance of 30.4 miles, thus establishing a new Russian record for straight flying. At another time the same boy gained a new altitude of 8860 feet. Pilot Anokhim was credited with a flight of 36.6 miles, returning to the starting point. He also bettered the endurance record by staying up for seventeen hours.

The most sensational flight was again achieved by a komsomol. Early in the morning of August 15th, a boy named Judin arrived with his glider "G-9" on Mt. Klementiev, having covered a distance of 2230 miles over the Oremburg-Moscow-Koktebel route in 38 hours and 56 minutes, reaching an average speed of 74.4 miles per hour while being towed by a motorplane. Over the field, he cut loose at an altitude of 1500 feet and, after a couple of circles, landed gracefully near the hangar. The flying conditions were very unfavorable. Low-hanging clouds, contrary winds and frequent rain made the flight very difficult, especially between Eisk and Koktebel, where he was forced to go down to 500 feet.

How was it possible for Soviet Russia to advance that far in only ten years of gliding? The answer is the Osoaviakhim - a society for aerial and chemical defense. This vast organization, with a membership of two and a half millions, grew out of the Society of Friends of the Red Air Fleet. Russia, being surrounded by a chain of not too friendly neighbors and open enemies with enormous armies and large air fleets, constantly has been in the fear of being attacked. In such a case, the civil population would naturally suffer most. Therefore, one of the main tasks of the Osoaviakhim is to prepare the people, especially those in big cities, against the dangers of the cruel gas and other chemical war methods of today. To repulse any possible attack, an efficient air fleet was needed.

The Osoaviakhim has about fifty thousand clubs or branches all over the country. Members of these units try to get the big masses interested in aviation, raise funds for research work in aviation and chemistry, and build planes for army, navy and civil aviation.

In 1929 the Osoaviakhim took over gliding. Realizing the possibilities of this great air sport, it began a great drive for gliding activities in all its branches. A special glider factory was erected to supply the different clubs and schools with training ships and soarers. The planes are delivered either completed or in parts, to be assembled by the groups. One month after the opening of the first school in Koktebel; ten youngsters graduated as glider pilots. Last year, in thirty glider schools of the U.S.S.R. 2500 workers and komsomols became glider pilots. The end of this year is expected to bring the total sum of all Russian glider pilots up to 30,000, and those who build and fly models up to 500,000.

As in the United States and many other countries, airplane model sport is very popular among young Russia, and there is a separate organization taking care of these activities for boys and girls up to the age of eighteen. The members of this organization are known as komsomols. Nearly every young person in Russia is anxious to learn to fly, but the Osoaviakhim selects only those best qualified for this work, which is about one out of every six applicants. The course takes about four to five weeks of training. Some of the best glider pilots have a chance to get motor plane instruction, which is generally completed in six months, while training to fly for the army and navy is finished in from two to three years.

Next to Germany, Russia is, of all nations, doing the most serious work in gliding. The Soviet government fully realizes its importance in aviation as a whole. Therefore, future aircraft workers, engineers and pilots will be taken mainly from the ranks of those trained in gliding. They are true to the slogan of the Osoaviakhim: "From Airplane Models to Gliders - From Gliders to Motor Planes."



Posted May 14, 2022

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