Thursday, October 3, 2013

125th Anniversary of PN Nesterov (1887-1914), military pilot and founder of aerobatics

On February 13, 2012 the stamp on this cover dedicated to the 125th anniversary of the legendary Russian pilot and a hero of the First World War was issued. The stamp depicts a portrait of P.N. Nesterov and an aircraft “Moran-G”.
Pyotr Nikolayevich Nesterov (27 February 1887 in Nizhny Novgorod - 8 September 1914 in Zhovkva, Lviv Oblast was a Russian pilot, an aircraft technical designer and an aerobatics pioneer. The son of a military academy teacher, Pyotr Nesterov chose a military career. In August 1904 he left the military school in Nizhny Novgorod and went to the artillery school, considered one of the best of its kind. He became a second lieutenant and served in the 9th East Siberian artillery brigade in Vladivostok. In 1909, he came into contact with aviation when he was sent to an aircraft manufacturer to work. He built his first glider and learned to fly it.
In 1911 Nesterov began formal training as a pilot and graduated on 11 October 1912. A short time later he also passed the examination to be a military pilot. In May 1913 he became leader of a relay in Kiev, completing night flights at that time.
Nesterov believed an aircraft could fly a loop, a feat not previously performed. Despite the doubts of his peers, Nesterov proved his theory on 9 September 1913 (27 August by the calendar then used in Russia) and became the first pilot to fly a loop.  
The First World War gave Nesterov the opportunity to put his theories to practice and he proved to be particularly adept at controlling the bomb release. Aircraft were unarmed at this early stage, and Nesterov became the first pilot to destroy an enemy airplane in flight. On 25 August 1914 (as the date was reckoned using the Old Style calendar then still used by the Russian Empire), after using a pistol to fire unsuccessfully at the Austrian Albatros B.II reconnaissance aircraft of observer Baron Friedrich von Rosenthal and pilot Franz Malina from FLIK 11, he used his Morane-Saulnier Type G monoplane (s/n 281) to ram it. Eager to destroy enemy aircraft, he probably intended to hit it with a glancing blow but damaged his own aircraft as much as the enemy's and both planes crashed. As was common for the time, Nesterov was not strapped in and he fell from his plane, dying of his injuries the next day. The Austrian pilot and observer also died. The town of Zhovkva (currently in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine) near the famous air fight was renamed Nesterov in 1951, though it has since reverted to Zhovkva.

Thank you My friend Anna for this FDC.

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