Vodop’ianov, Mikhail Vasil’evich
Born Nov. 6 (18), 1899, in the village of Studenka, now a part of the city of Lipetsk. Soviet pilot; one of the first Heroes of the USSR (Apr. 20, 1934); major general of aviation (1943). Member of the CPSU since 1934.
Vodop’ianov was born into a peasant family. In February 1918 he joined the Red Army as a volunteer and served as a driver and mechanic. Later he served as an airplane mechanic and pilot. After the Civil War he piloted aircraft between Moscow and Irkutsk and between Moscow and Leningrad and developed the first air route to Sakhalin Island. In 1929 he graduated from a military school of aviation. In March and April 1934 he participated in the rescue of the crew of the icebreaker Cheliuskin, for which he was awarded the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. In 1937 he joined an air expedition to the north pole. During the Great Patriotic War, Vodop’ianov commanded an air division. He retired in 1946.
Vodop’ianov is the author of the novel The Kireevs (1956), tales, stories, the autobiographical Polar Flier (1952), and Valerii Chkalov (1954). He has received four Orders of Lenin, four Orders of the Red Banner, an Order of the Patriotic War First Class, and medals.