Military Review

The first in the sky. Mikhail Efimov - pioneer of Russian aviation

В history Russian aviation forever inscribed in gold letters the names of the "first of the first" - the legendary pilots who stood at the origins of conquering the sky by our compatriots. One of the most prominent Russian aviators of the first wave was Mikhail Nikiforovich Efimov (1881-1919). It so happened that the history of the formation of Russian aviation in those years was largely connected with Odessa. It was here that the youthful and adult years of Mikhail Efimov passed, here on March 21, 1910, the first Russian pilot made his first public flight.

Nikifor Efimov, father of the future first Russian pilot, was the son of a serf from Smolensk. He spent his youth in the military service - he served in the grenadier regiment, participated in the Russian-Turkish war. After demobilization, Nikifor Efimov with his wife and three sons arrived in Odessa - in search of work. He managed to get a job as a mechanic at the workshops of the Russian Society of Shipping and Trade (ROPIT). Perhaps it was the technical activity of the father, in combination with his heroic past, that influenced the life choices of Mikhail Efimov. Misha was a sports hobbyist as a child. At that time, the famous athlete Sergey Isaevich Utochkin (1876-1915) lived in Odessa. Possessing excellent physical data, he was engaged in a variety of sports, but in 1895-1905 ... he was most active in cycling races. In many ways, it was thanks to Utochkin that cycling gained mass popularity in the Russian Empire, and hundreds of thousands of young men became interested not only in cycling and racing, but also in physical culture and sports in general. But, of course, the most popular Utochkin received in his small homeland in Odessa. He was the idol of thousands of Odessa boys, and among them was, of course, Misha Efimov. The boy attended the Odessa cyclodrome, and then bought the first bike - the older brother, who received his first salary, gave him the money.

The first in the sky. Mikhail Efimov - pioneer of Russian aviation
- Utochkin

At the age of eighteen, Mikhail Efimov entered the Odessa Railway Technical School with a degree in telegraph communication. This specialty itself at that time was also very advanced - probably comparable to modern IT specialists. For a guy from a simple family, getting an electromechanical-telegraphic diploma was already a great achievement, especially since the presence of such a specialty at that time guaranteed a good salary by the standards of tsarist Russia.

After graduating from college, Mikhail Efimov got a job working as a telegraph electrician. Wages were good here and allowed him to buy a Peugeot motorcycle. For those times it was an unprecedented rarity. When Yefimov was riding a motorcycle through the streets of Odessa, crowds of enthusiastic boys ran after him, stopped and followed adults for a long time after the unprecedented “motor bike”. Inspired by the example of Sergey Utochkin - his senior contemporary and countryman, Efimov actively tried himself in races - only motorcycle, In 1908, he became the champion of Russia in motorcycle sports. However, motorcycles and bicycles by this time did not seem to Michael himself to be something unusual. He became interested in aeronautics - to rise into the air then seemed like a real feat. Mikhail Efimov enthusiastically watched the flights of foreign pilots - the French, who arrived in Russia for demonstrations.

21 March 1908 was created in Odessa by the flying club, which became one of the first in Russia. Mikhail Efimov became his active participant. Interestingly, around the same time, other Odessa cyclists and motorcycle racers became interested in conquering the sky - both Sergey Utochkin himself and his friend Khariton Slavorossov. October 2 1907 in Odessa Sergei Utochkin made an independent balloon flight. However, on an airplane at that time he hadn’t been able to get up in the air. Interesting, but the first Russian graduate pilot was not Sergey Utochkin, but his younger associate Mikhail Efimov.

When the Odessa flying club decided to conduct the first flight on a glider, Yefimov volunteered to carry out this experiment. The flight took place over the hippodrome of Odessa. The glider was towed by car and flew just a few seconds. But even this was enough for Efimov to immediately acquire not only city, but also all-Russian fame. In the fall of 1909, Mikhail Efimov went to France - the most advanced country in the field of aeronautics of the world at that time. A trip to France by a simple Russian electrician was paid for by the rich Odessa banker Ksidias, who later hoped to earn a lot of money by organizing demonstration performances by an aviator.

In France, Efimov studied with the legendary Henri Farmann (1874-1958, as pictured) - also in the past cyclist and motorcyclist, then carried away by aviation and created his own aviation company. For thirty years of its existence, the company, created by the brothers Henri and Maurice Farman, has produced over 200 prototype and production aircraft. At a certain time, Farman planes, assembled in Russia, were the most popular aircraft of the Russian assembly. Mikhail Efimov became the first Russian cadet to receive training in France. It was thanks to his studies abroad that he was able to master the skills and technology of aeronautics at that time.

After completing the course, December 25 1909, Mikhail Efimov received the diploma of a pilot - the first in Russia. 21 March 1910 of the year in Odessa, over the Odessa Hippodrome, took place the first public flight of Mikhail Efimov. On the racetrack field gathered over 100 thousand people. Mikhail Efimov lifted into the air five times, making three laps at an altitude of 50 meters and twice taking passengers - banker Ksidias and chairman of the flying club Arthur Anatr. When Efimov landed, the organizers of the event gave him a laurel wreath with a ribbon to the “First Russian Aviator”. And Efimov was really the first. Sergei Utochkin received a diploma at the French Aviation School a bit later, becoming the second certified pilot from the Russian Empire.

- the first Russian pilots Vasiliev, Efimov and Utochkin

Henri Farman suggested that a talented Russian aviator stay at an aviation school as an instructor. Having approached Farman, Efimov used his help to terminate the contract with Ksidias. According to the contract, Efimov had to work out three years the money that the banker spent on his journey and study in France. But Farman agreed to borrow a large sum for his Russian colleague, and Efimov returned the money to the banker. So he was freed from obligations and was able to quietly do his favorite thing - to improve his skills as an aviator. In April, 1910, Mikhail Efimov won the Nice Aviator Competition and received a large fee, which enabled him to repay Farman and buy his own airplane.

The first Russian pilot actively participated in most international aviation competitions in Europe - in Rouen, Reims, Verona, Budapest, where he always occupied the top places - first or second. At the All-Russian Aeronautics Festival in St. Petersburg, Efimov met Professor Zhukovsky himself, the largest Russian luminary in the field of the theory of aeronautics. The flights of Efimov made a great impression on Nikolai Egorovich Zhukovsky. In turn, the meeting with Zhukovsky contributed to the further growth of popularity of Efimov, his authority in the country. One of the world's first Efimov turns, spirals, dives and planning with the engine off, begins to make night flights. Efimov's skill attracted the attention of the military ministry. The pilot received prizes for lifting the largest load in the air and for the best planning descent. It’s becoming a matter of honor for the military department to invite Russia's first certified aviator to the service. Efimov is invited to Kacha, where at that time the aviation school began its work. Efimov became the official chief instructor of the aviation school and in this capacity continues to serve until the beginning of the First World War. By the way, it was at this time that a friend of the cyclist Khariton Slavorossov arrived to Efimov, who began working as a mechanic for the first Russian aviator and was studying aviation skills himself.

When World War I began in 1914, Mikhail Efimov handed over to the command a report with a request to send him to the front. In April, 1915, he was included in the army as a pilot-hunter 32-th aviation squad. The first Russian aviator begins to make raids to the rear of the enemy, photograph positions, and conduct bombing. Then, Efimov was again returned to the Kachin school, and in November 1915 of the year he was assigned the title of ensign. By this time, Efimov had already become for his combat sorties full Georgievsky cavalier.

In February, 1916, Efimov was seconded to the 25 corps aviation squad of the Kiev military school of observers, where the pilot began developing his own aircraft. But Efimov failed to complete this interesting project - the pilot was again seconded to the front. One day, Efimov left for Sevastopol without permission to test the details of the airplane. However, the command ordered to detain Ensign Efimov for the unauthorized abandonment of the military unit. The pilot was put on the guardhouse, which was a great humiliation for Efimov. In 1916, Mikhail Efimov was transferred to the Romanian front - to the 6 air force unit. He flew the Newport 11. At the beginning of 1917, the Efimov squadron was transferred to the Sevastopol hydroaviation as a flagship pilot.

By this time, Efimov had long cooperated with the Social Democrats. Like many other Russian aviators of the first wave, including, for example, Konstantin Akashev and Viktor Fedorov, Mikhail Efimov sympathized with the revolutionary movement and linked the country's future with the socialist development path. After the February Revolution 1917, he was elected a member of the hydroaviation committee. Not only as a pilot, but also as a public figure, Efimov established himself in the difficult days of the February revolution. He launched a propaganda work among pilots and sailors of the hydroaviation. About the views of Efimov was well known to the command, but he was not dismissed - as an excellent specialist and authoritative officer. However, when Crimea was occupied by German troops in the spring of 1918, the Russian pilot Mikhail Yefimov was arrested. He was released only almost a year later, after the Bolsheviks managed to establish short-term control over the peninsula. But in 1919, the Bolshevik government in Crimea lasted only a short time. White troops attacked the peninsula. The Red Army, in which Mikhail Yefimov was already serving at that time, was forced to begin a retreat. Efimov participated in the withdrawal of the Red Army units as a convoy driver. In the area of ​​Kherson the convoy was stuck, so the cars had to be thrown and set on fire - so that the whites would not get it.

Mikhail Efimov on foot reached Odessa - the city of his childhood. However, in August, the White Guards, commanded by 1919 captain of the rank of Kislovsky, landed in Odessa 2. Mikhail Efimov was arrested and soon executed. White did not take into account the merit of the first Russian pilot - for them, Mikhail Efimov was only a dangerous Bolshevik agitator, in addition to everything he had worn officer's shoulder straps. Later it became known that the order to execute Efimov was given by Kislovsky himself. The first Russian pilot was put in a boat and taken out to the middle of the bay. The officer commanding the boat told the pilot that he was given a chance to escape - and ordered him to jump overboard to get to the shore by swimming. Efimov agreed. But as soon as he sailed, the guards opened fire on the pilot.

Mikhail Efimov at the time of death was just 37 years old. He could have lived for a very long time, benefiting his country and the development of aviation throughout the world. But the fate of most of the “golden names” of Russian aviation was tragic. Back in 1916, only in 39 years, Sergey Utochkin died of a stroke. In recent years, he led a marginal lifestyle, there were rumors of alcohol and drug abuse. 26 August 1914, the legendary staff captain Peter Nesterov died in aerial combat. 4 March 1922 in Paris died of throat phthisis Viktor Fedorov - he was also 37 years old. Konstantin Akashev, one of the pioneers of aviation, was lucky at first - after the revolution, he held important command posts in Soviet aviation and leadership positions in the aviation industry. But in 1931, the 43-year-old Konstantin Akashev was shot by conviction of the OGPU Collegium - the aviator was accused of espionage, although most likely the main reason for his arrest and execution was Akashev’s revolutionary past - in his youth he joined the anarchist movement. In the 1941 year, after eleven years in the camp, Khariton Slavorossov, arrested and convicted in the 1930 year, died. Vasily Kamensky (1884-1961) lived a longer life - not only an aviator, but also a futurist poet. However, she, too, was in many ways unhappy - because of his illness, he had amputated his legs at the end of 1930, and in the 1948 year, Kamensky had a stroke and he spent the last thirteen years of his life paralyzed.

The memory of the first Russian pilot, Mikhail Efimov, is stored in the street name in Odessa, several memorial plaques. Monuments to Efimov stand in Gatchina and in Odessa. Back in 1988, the International Planetary Center decided to assign the name “Efimov” to the small planet number 2754.
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  1. V.ic
    V.ic 21 March 2017 06: 37
    (C) But the fate of most of the “golden names” of Russian aviation was tragic.

    There were no cards, fate ...
  2. moskowit
    moskowit 21 March 2017 06: 51
    Thanks to the author. Extremely interesting, informative material. More such articles about prominent people of Russia!
  3. Olgovich
    Olgovich 21 March 2017 07: 49
    March 21, 1908 in Odessa was created aero club, which became one of the first in Russia

    thanks to Utochkin, cycling gained mass popularity in the Russian Empire, and hundreds of thousands of young men became interested not only in cycling and racing, but also in physical education and sports in general

    Odessa became a trendsetter for football in Russia, there was a strong team of gymnasts and athletes.

    Odessa-southern Palmyra, the southern capital of Russia and New Russia, is a rapidly developing beautiful young city of Russia and the world, where all the most advanced in the world (in technology and sports) found the hottest response and development ..

    Thanks to the author for an interesting story.
    1. V.ic
      V.ic 21 March 2017 09: 51
      Quote: Olgovich
      Odessa-south Palmyra,

      ... about Palmyra - is this a hint? Do you know better from Moldova, the "ciguranza" in the know?
  4. parusnik
    parusnik 21 March 2017 07: 56
    The first star of Russian aviation ..... Podlenko killed ...
    1. Reptiloid
      Reptiloid 23 March 2017 21: 27
      And no whites and their descendants have not repented so far.
      Thanks to the author for the story of the wonderful pioneers, the Russians.
  5. bober1982
    bober1982 21 March 2017 09: 45
    I liked the article. In addition, since the Sevastopol period of Efimov’s aviation life is not indicated: after a personal conversation with the Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich, he accepted from him an offer to become the chief pilot of the Sevastopol aviation school. This period is very interesting and significant in the life of Efimov, as well as for our entire domestic aviation. And a very small addition, Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich is rightfully considered the ancestor of Russian aviation, and he treated Efimov with great respect.
  6. soldier
    soldier 21 March 2017 10: 46
    Great article about an outstanding person. Bow to the author hi
  7. Moore
    Moore 21 March 2017 12: 25
    Quote: Olgovich
    Odessa-southern Palmyra

    With North Palmyra it’s still clear. Here with the South how to be?
    Just Palmyra, the one a little south of Odessa - then what kind? smile
    1. bober1982
      bober1982 21 March 2017 12: 47
      This Olgovich poetically spoke out, why cling to words. There is Palmyra, there is North Palmyra, we will consider that there is also Southern Palmyra.
    2. Olgovich
      Olgovich 21 March 2017 14: 31
      Quote: Moore
      With North Palmyra it’s still clear. Here with the South how to be?

      This is a common expression.
      This name arose by analogy: once upon a time, approximately in the XNUMXth century AD, there was a Syrian city of Palmyra, which was considered the most beautiful, richest and best in the world - it was from the name of this city that the name "Palmyra" came from.

      Amber burned out in the sky
      And the evening lay on the blue panels.
      From dusk, from dying dawn
      Here are all the shades of elegant watercolor ...

      How beautiful everything is ... Above the leaves in the distance
      The theater in the lights in the sky is pale scarlet.
      The museum is all blue. Twilight passed
      Between the columns and fluttering over the portal ...

      Right Duma. A number of columns
      And flower beds at a voiceless gun.
      And then the sea, the pale sky
      And above the petrified Pushkin ...

      Silent boulevard over the sea
      Leaves into the distance green dear.
      And on the side of the building is a gray sidewalk,
      And everything around is unattainable, strictly.

      There is silence. And the stairs in the foliage
      Goes down to the evening peace ...
      And strictly everything: and the stars in blue,
      And a black Duke with an outstretched hand.

      Due to the fact that on the territory of the Russian Empire there were only two cities worthy of this name, St. Petersburg was called Northern, and Odessa - Southern Palmyra, thereby emphasizing that these cities are the best in the world.
  8. Aviator_
    Aviator_ 21 March 2017 21: 27
    Good article, respect to the author. At the same time, he recalled the “nobility” of the whites
  9. not main
    not main 21 March 2017 23: 45
    Thank you very much to the author! Surnames Utochkin, Efimov, Slavorossov, Kazakov, Nesterov will be for us as an ideal to which we can only strive!
  10. Catherine II
    Catherine II 22 March 2017 16: 55
    But, of course, Utochkin received the greatest popularity in his small homeland in Odessa.

    Sergey Isaevich Utochkin 30 June 1876 [12 July 1876], Odessa - 31 December 1915 [13 January 1916], Petrograd)
    With 1910 he is touring. Before that he lived in Odessa (except for trips). Odessa is generally his hometown.


    About Odessa of those times. the largest seaport of Russia on the Black Sea and the fourth largest city of the Russian Empire after St. Petersburg, Moscow and Warsaw. And the second port. In the Russian Empire, it was second in terms of cargo turnover after Petersburg.
    The combination of the coastal southern city with open access and connections is where news and news (football, aviation, etc.) got much faster
    Your aircraft factory. Many patrons. Emotional audience.
    At the beginning of the 20th century, Odessa was famous not only for its smuggling with Malaya Arnautskaya, but also for its first balloon flights, its first flying club, its first flight, its first aircraft factory and its first production airplane assembled on the territory of Eastern Europe. Odessa became the place where the talented met people of many specialties - enthusiastic dreamers, self-taught locksmiths and amateur athletes of modern technology. And of course, in Odessa there was a lot of money from bankers and entrepreneurs who greatly contributed to the realization of the most daring ideas. 1908 was the year when the first flying club was founded in Odessa. On 8 of March 1908 of the year in the small room of the Black Sea Yacht Club on Deribasovskaya, 5, the first meeting of the founding members of the Odessa Aeroclub scientific and sports society was held.
    The first president of the flying club was the commander of the troops of the Odessa Military District, cavalry general Baron Alexander Vasilievich Kaulbars. This versatile talented man, military man, statesman and geographer, first sat at the helm of a biplane in 60 years, a few years later went abroad to a piloting school, and in 70-t he became one of the initiators of the creation of a large Empire Air Fleet. During the First World War, up to the 1916 year, Kaulbars led the entire aviation of the Western Front, after the October Revolution, fought with the Bolsheviks, but was forced to evacuate to Constantinople. Died in Paris at 1929. (Representative of the white movement)
    Aleksey van der Shkruf, the word “for the first time” can be applied to him twice - he was the first to lift a balloon over the city, and a year later, in 1909, he was the first to attempt, though unsuccessfully, to fly an airplane into the sky.
    In the summer of 1908, when he learned that France had achieved some success, the Odessa flying club begins to raise money for the purchase of an aircraft. It was required to find a huge sum for those times - about 20 thousand rubles. By the way, a liter of milk cost 6 kopecks, a bucket of forty-degree vodka (12 liters) - 1 ruble, boots - 3 ruble, a worker’s salary was up to 40 rubles, an officer’s horse cost 100, a Ford-T car - 2500 rubles.

    In a fairly short time, the required amount was found, and in the autumn of that year, two messengers with a bag of money went to Paris. An airplane of the Voisin system was ordered, which for various reasons arrived in Odessa only in April of the 1909. It was an extremely imperfect and fragile design with a low-power, constantly sneezing Antoinette motor with a capacity of no more than 50 “horses”. After assembling the apparatus, numerous experiments began, which, alas, ended in an accident. In one of the unsuccessful attempts, pilot Aleksey van der Shkruf finally broke the “whatnot”.

    Despite the fiasco, immediately two sponsors decided to maintain the prestige of Odessa aviators. Banker Arthur Anatra allocated money for the purchase of two Blerio devices, and another member of the flying club - the financier Ksidias - sent Mikhail Efimov to France with the task of buying a Farman plane and learning how to pilot it.

    Mikhail was not a native of Odessa, after arriving in Odessa he immediately became interested in motorcycle racing. Working as a telegraph electrician, he bought a Peugeot motorcycle and began training with then-popular athlete Utochkin. Just a year later, Yefimov became the country's champion in motorcycle sport. With the beginning of the era of aviation, he tries to keep up to date and develops first a balloon, and then a glider. Xidias made an offer to Efimov, which he could not refuse. The Greek sent him to France and paid for the training on the condition that Mikhail will fly in front of the audience for three years, giving the lion's share of his income to the sponsor.

    Arriving in French Murmelon, Efimov immediately attracted the attention of Henri Farman, who by that time had become almost a legend. The famous Frenchman personally engaged in the preparation of Odessa. It is not clear only one thing - whether this desire was “fed” by Ksidias money, or whether the Russian really bribed the Frenchman with his personal qualities. However, at the end of December 1909, Yefimov took a seat at the helm of Farman IV and made its first independent flight, which lasted 45 minutes. A few days later he telegraphed Xidias, which remains in France, and will return the tuition money when he earns. The Greek in the response message requires adhering to the terms of the contract, but compromises ... According to the new conditions, Mikhail must make several flights in Odessa and train one pilot. As a result, Efimov, abandoning very profitable contracts for demonstrations, becomes the first Russian certified pilot. At the beginning of the 1910 of the year with the purchased Farman 4 aircraft, he went to Odessa
    The truly finest hour of Efimov came on 8 of March 1910 of the year. On that day, a hundred-thousandth crowd gathered at the Odessa hippodrome, which required spectacles - even the famous port movers completed the shift an hour earlier to get to the running field ...

    Here is what Odessa newspapers wrote the next day: “Without any preparations, having tried only the propeller’s work, the aviator got on an airplane. The nine-meter “Farman” quickly rolled on wheels on the treadmill, on the fourth fathom beautifully took off the ground and gently climbed upwards ... Twice around the huge circle of the racetrack through the air at a speed of 60 versts per hour, Yefimov, having tilted the car strongly, descends splendidly and easily. Hundred-thousandth crowd enthusiastically greets him ... "

    Efimov instantly becomes a star. That day, he flew up five times into the sky, and once with the passenger - his sponsor Ksidias. After the flight, the frightened Greek described his impressions in such a way: “When I took off and saw such a huge number of public, I experienced the feeling of a lot of money that I will receive. Then I got scared. What if Efimov suddenly breaks me, who will get this money? And so I decided to rather go down to the ground. "

    The next day, the flying club elected Efimov as its member. A telegram was sent to Grand Duke Alexander Mikhailovich with a request to report on the successes of the Odessa aviator to his grand-nephew, Tsar Nicholas II, to which a "gracious answer" was received. It is interesting that exactly one hundred years later the Odessa aviator Konstantin Oborin collected an almost exact copy of the Farman IV airplane and in April 2016 of the year was able to lift it into the sky above Odessa.
    A few months later in the same 1910 of the year, Sport Life magazine wrote: “Positive, Odessa will soon have to be called an“ air capital ”, and Odessa city guides will talk about Odessa sights, except the traditional one - the sea, the stairs, the exchange, Duke and the theater, and also Odessa - aviation
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