Aviation Sports

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 It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Aviation Sports


types of military-technical sports, inseparably linked with the development of aviation and general-purpose and sports aircraft construction. Aviation sports include (1) flights in planes in different weight categories with piston, turboprop, and jet engines to set records for speed, altitude, distance, duration, time-to-climb, and lifting power and (2) competitions for single-seat sports and two-seat training planes with piston engines for skill in the execution of aerobatic figures in conventional and inverted flight, flights in a circle, navigation along a route, flights with open and enclosed cockpits, day and night flights, and flights under basic flight conditions. World championships are held only in aerobatics once every two years (since 1960).

Aviation sports had their beginnings in the early 20th century. The Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) was founded in Paris in 1905 to direct international activities in aviation sports. In 1906, A. Santos-Dumont of France set the first records to be recognized by the FAI; the records were for speed (41.292 km/hr) and distance (220 m). In 1909 the first altitude record was recognized (155 m, Latham, France).

The appearance of ballooning and aviation sports in Russia was connected with the formation of the All-Russian Air Club in St. Petersburg in 1908; the club had divisions in the Far East, Irkutsk, Orenburg, and Nizhny Novgorod. During International Aviation Week in St. Petersburg in 1910, N. E. Popov established world records for duration (2 hr 4 min) and altitude (600 m). In 1911 the first flight from St. Petersburg to Moscow was made in one day; 12 pilots participated, and the winner was A. A. Vasil’ev. As of 1914, Russian pilots had set ten world records for duration, distance, and altitude. Among world records in the 1920’s and early 1930’s were the duration record of 37 hr 12 min (C. Smith and L. Richter, USA, 1923), altitude—12,066 m (Collisaut, France, 1924), and speed—234.47 km/hr (A. Earhart, USA, 1930).

Competition in aviation sports in the USSR during the 1920’s and 1930’s was sporadic, and contests were held by air clubs in individual cities. The development of aviation sports was linked with the activities of the large voluntary defense societies, such as the Society of Friends of the Air Force, the Society for Assistance to Aviation and Chemical Construction (Aviakhim), the Society for Assistance to Defense, Aviation, and Chemical Construction (Osoaviakhim), the Voluntary Society for Cooperation With the Air Force (DOSAV), and the All-Union Voluntary Society for Cooperation with the Army, Air Force, and Navy (DOSAAF USSR). The Central Air Club of the USSR was also active in the development of aviation sports. Prominent participants included V. P. Chkalov, S. N. Anokhin, A. I. Bodriagina, N. M. Golovanov, V. P. Piskunov, Ia. D. Forostenko, M. P. Chechneva, R. M. Shikhin, and V. K. Shumilov. Outstanding achievements of the 1930’s included the record for altitude with a gross weight of 500 kg (12,816 m, V. K. Kokkinaki, 1936), the nonstop flight from Moscow to North America across the North Pole (9,130 km along a broken line in 63 hr 16 min; V. P. Chkalov, G. F. Baidukov, and A. V. Beliakov, 1937), the world distance record over a straight course (10,148 km, M. M. Gromov, A. B. Iumashev, and S. A. Danilin, 1937), and the distance record for a women’s crew (5,908.610 km, V. S. Grizodubova, P. D. Osipenko, and M. M. Raskova, 1938).

All-Union competitions in sports and training planes with piston engines have been held every year since 1949. In 1959 the Federation of Aviation Sports of the USSR was formed; it included the Aircraft Committee and joined the FAI in 1960. The independent Federation of Aircraft Sports of the USSR was established in 1965. All-Union competitions in planes with jet engines have been held annually since 1967. During the 1960’s a network of DOSAAF USSR aviation sports clubs was organized to train sports pilots. In 1974 there were more than 1,000 masters of aviation sports, including 22 honored masters of sport of the USSR and 21 international-class masters of sport. There were 135 women among the masters of aviation sports. Soviet pilots who have been world aerobatics champions are G. G. Korchuganova (1966), V. D. Martem’ianov (1966), S. E. Savitskaia (1970), and I. N. Egorov (1970). Soviet world record holders have included V. I. Il’iushin, G. K. Mosolov, G. M. Nikitin, P. M. Ostapenko, I. M. Sukhomlin, and L. Ia. Zaitseva. In 1964 and 1966, the USSR national team won the P. N. Nesterov Cup, instituted by the FAI in 1960 as a prize to be retained by the winning team in the world aerobatic championships until the following competition. The Gold Medal of the FAI has been awarded to record-holding pilots V. K. Kokkinaki and M. L. Popovich and aviation designer A. S. Iakovlev. As of Jan. 1, 1975, Soviet sports pilots hold 153 of the 395 world records recognized by the FAI; this does not include records for commercial routes flown by airline companies.

As of July 1, 1974, the absolute world records for aircraft with jet engines were as follows: distance—20,168.78 km (C. Evely, USA, 1962); distance over a closed course—18,245.05 km (W. Stevenson, USA, 1962); altitude—36,240 m (A. V. Fedotov, USSR, 1974); speed over a closed course—2,981.5 km/hr (M. Komarov, USSR, 1967); and speed over a measured course—3,331.507 km/hr (R. Stephens, USA, 1965).

Records set by women pilots include the following: speed—2,683.446 km/hr (S. E. Savitskaia, USSR, 1975); altitude—24,336 m (N. A. Prokhanova, USSR, 1965); speed for 100 km—2,128.7 km/hr (E. N. Martova, USSR, 1967); speed for 500 km—2,062 km/hr (M. I. Solov’eva, USSR, 1966); speed for 1,000 km-1,298.16 km/hr (L. Ia. Zaitseva, USSR, 1967); speed for 2,000 km—900.267 km/hr (Martova, USSR, 1966); distance over a straight course—3,661.33 km (J. Cochran, USA, 1962); and distance over a closed course—2,497.009 km (M. L. Popovich, USSR, 1967). Other records for women pilots include the following: time to climb to 3,000 m—41.2 sec; to 6,000 m—61 sec; to 9,000 m—81 sec; and to 12,000 m—119.3 sec (S. E. Savitskaia, USSR, 1975).

Outside the USSR, aviation sports are most highly developed in the German Democratic Republic, Great Britain, the USA, France, the Federal Republic of Germany, Czechoslovakia, and Switzerland. World aerobatic champions have been L. Bezak (Czechoslovakia, 1960), G. Tóth (Hungary, 1962), T. Castaño (Spain, 1964), and C. Hillard and M. Gaffaney (USA, 1972).


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