Kovan’ko, Aleksandr Matveevich
Born Mar. 17 (29), 1856, in St. Petersburg; died Apr. 20, 1919, in Odessa. Prominent in the development of aerostation and aviation in Russia; lieutenant general. Son of an engineer.
In 1885, Kovan’ko was placed in command of the first aerostat unit in the Russian Army. Kovan’ko organized the world’s first balloon (aerostat) flights for scientific research in the upper strata of the atmosphere and for the study of the effect of flight on the human organism. He was instrumental in the production of Russian aerostats and dirigibles and offered a few of his own designs. In 1894 he submitted plans for an airplane and a propeller. In the Russo-Japanese War of 1904–05, Kovan’ko commanded the 1st Siberian Aerostat Battalion and organized the application in combat of captive aerostats to adjust artillery fire and observe the enemy. In 1910 he was appointed commander of the Officers’ Aerial Navigation School, which trained the first pilots in Russia.