Aleksandr Mozhaiskii

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Mozhaiskii, Aleksandr Fedorovich


Born Mar. 9 (21), 1825, in present-day Kotka, Finland; died Mar. 20 (Apr. 1), 1890, in St. Petersburg. Russian researcher and inventor in the design of heavier-than-air craft.

Mozhaiskii graduated from the Naval (Cadet) School in 1841. From 1841 to 1862 and from 1879 to 1882 he served in the navy, and from 1862 to 1879 he served in civilian departments for carrying out the peasant reform. In 1882 he retired with the rank of major general (rear admiral from 1886). In 1856 he became interested in questions related to flight. He made comprehensive studies of the flight of birds and kites and the operation of airscrews, and he began to study the possibility of creating a heavier-than-air craft. His models flew successfully in 1876.

On Nov. 3, 1881 (based on a claim filed June 4, 1880), Mozhaiskii received the first patent in Russia for his invention of a “flying device” (airplane). In 1881 he began to build an aircraft with two 20- and 10-hp steam engines (in a military field in Krasnoe Selo, near St. Petersburg). Construction was basically complete by the summer of 1882. The official documents on the flight of this airplane have not been preserved. Accounts dating to 1909 and later indicate that the attempt at flight ended in failure.

Mozhaiskii’s aircraft is of interest because it was one of the first practical attempts to build a piloted airplane.


Aleksandr Fedorovich Mozhaiskii—sozdatel’ pervogo samoleta: Sb. dokumentov. Moscow, 1955.
Shavrov, V. B. Istoriia konstruktsii samoletovv SSSR do 1938g. Moscow, 1969.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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