Nikolai Ivanovich Kibalchich
Kibal’chich, Nikolai Ivanovich
Born Oct. 19 (31), 1853, in the city of Korop, now in Chernigov Oblast; died Apr. 3 (15), 1881, in St. Petersburg. Russian revolutionary. Member of People’s Will. Inventor.
Kibal’chich was the son of a priest. He began to study at the St. Petersburg Institute of Railroad Engineers in 1871 and at the Medical-Surgical Academy in 1873. He was in prison from October 1875 to June 1878, charged with revolutionary propaganda. In May and June 1879, after his release from prison, he was a member of the Freedom or Death group that had been formed within Land and Liberty, and then (in August 1879) he became an agent of the executive committee of People’s Will. Kibal’chich wrote one of the most important theoretical articles in the political literature of People’s Will—“The Political Revolution and the Economic Question” (Narodnaia Volia, Feb. 5, 1881). He was in charge of the explosives laboratory of the executive committee of People’s Will. As the “chief technician” of the organization, he participated in the preparation of the attempt on the life of Tsar Alexander II. He was arrested on Mar. 17, 1881, and was sentenced to death for his participation in the plot of Mar. 1, 1881. He was hanged together with A. I. Zheliabov, S. L. Perovskaia, and the other March 1 conspirators.
While in prison, several days before his execution, Kibal’chich worked out an original design for a jet-propelled aircraft intended for flight by man (published for the first time in 1918, Byloe, Nos. 4–5). Kibal’chich’s design provided for the construction of a powder engine, control of flight by changing the engine’s angle of inclination, an automatically controlled rate of combustion, and means of ensuring the stability of the aircraft. A crater on the far side of the moon has been named after Kibal’chich.