Pilot-cosmonaut, the first man to be in space, in the seven years that have passed since the first space flight, Gagarin was a true symbol of the era. On that ill-fated day, he made a training flight - despite the regalia, the rank of colonel, awarded at the 29 age, the Golden Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union, Yuri Gagarin continued to fly. He was just 34 year - it seemed that the whole life ahead, still waiting for a lot of exciting flights and experiments. The absurd tragedy cut short the life of the pilot-cosmonaut.
Together with Yuri Gagarin pilot instructor Vladimir Seryogin was killed. He was older than the first cosmonaut on 12 years and received the Golden Star of the Hero of the Soviet Union not for space flights, but at the front. Vladimir Sergeevich Seregin, a colonel engineer, went through the war as part of an assault aircraft, made 140 sorties of combat significance and 50 reconnaissance sorties, for which he was awarded a high award. After the war, Seregin graduated from the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy and served in test aviation. From March 1967, Colonel-Engineer Vladimir Seregin commanded a regiment engaged in flight training of cosmonauts at the Air Force Cosmonaut Training Center.
Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin was appointed deputy head of the Air Force Cosmonaut Training Center in 1964 year. A long break in flight practice was caused by the cosmonaut’s study at the Zhukovsky Air Force Academy and the defense of his thesis. In addition, Yuri Gagarin was a huge public and political burden - after the first flight into space, he became a superpopular figure, not only in the Soviet Union, but also in the world.
Regular visits, meetings with the public, with political figures, scientists and cultural figures took a lot of time from Yuri Gagarin. But, as a man enthusiastic about aviation, he dreamed of returning to flying. Therefore, when certain free time appeared, Yuri Gagarin returned to flying and began to train on the MiG-XNUMHUTI with his senior comrade Colonel Vladimir Seregin. From 15 March to 13 March 22, Yuri Gagarin performed 1968 flights with an instructor pilot with a total duration of 18 hours. In order to proceed with independent departures, Yuri Gagarin was left with the entire 7 flight.
The flights of Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Seregin were carried out on the MiG-15UTI aircraft No. 612739. According to the information available, it was released on 19 in March 1956 by the Aero Vodochody plant in Czechoslovakia. In July, the 1962, the aircraft passed the first repair, and in March, the 1967, the second repair. Four times, in 1957, 1959, 1964 and 1967, the RD-45FA engine No. 84445А, which was manufactured in 1954, was also repaired. After the last repair, the engine has worked 66 hours 51 a minute, while its overhaul life was 100 hours.
In the morning of March 27 on 1968 of the year in 10: The MiN-18UTI MiG-15Y aircraft, operated by Vladimir Seryogin and Yuri Gagarin, took off from the Moscow-based Chkalovsky airfield in Schelkovo. At least 20 minutes were allocated for the assigned task, but in 10: 31 Yuri Gagarin reported to the ground that the task was over and asked for permission to turn around and fly to the airfield. After that, the connection with the crew disappeared. It soon became clear that the plane was running out of fuel, so helicopters were raised to search for the car. As a result of a three-hour search, around 14: 50 Moscow time, in 65 kilometers from the Chkalovsky airfield, fragments of the MiG-15UTI aircraft were discovered. The next morning, members of the State Commission arrived at the scene. They found the remains of Vladimir Seryogin and Yuri Gagarin, who were identified by their colleagues and relatives. They also found the personal belongings of two pilots, including a driver’s wallet and a photo of the Queen, a piece of Gagarin’s flight jacket with his food stamps.
To investigate the causes of the disaster, a State Commission was established, which included the flight, engineering and medical subcommittees. According to the official version, the plane made a sharp maneuver and fell into a corkscrew, but the pilots failed to bring it to horizontal flight and the plane collided with the ground. Technical malfunctions in the aircraft were not detected, as well as any foreign substances in the blood of the dead pilots.
The report prepared by the subcommissions remained classified, so the true causes of the catastrophe that killed the first cosmonaut and the famous test pilot are still unknown. It was only possible to establish that the disaster occurred in 10: 31 Moscow time - immediately after Yuri Gagarin spoke to the ground and reported on the completion of the task.
Lieutenant-General of Aviation Sergei Mikhailovich Belotserkovsky (1920-2000) led the engineering training of Soviet cosmonauts, served in the Air Force Engineering Academy. N. Ye. Zhukovsky, where he went from a teacher to a deputy head of the Academy for educational and scientific work. It was he who was the head of the graduation project of Yuri Gagarin. According to General Belotserkovsky, the cause of the disaster was the disruption of the plane into a flat tailspin as a result of the impact of the wake from another plane. The catastrophe was accompanied by bad weather conditions, certain deficiencies in the design of the aircraft itself, poor organization of radar flight observation, the presence of errors in planning.
Cosmonaut, Major General of Aviation Alexei Arkhipovich Leonov believes that Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Seregin died as a result of a different aircraft, Su-15, passing by their plane. His pilot, not seeing Gagarin, descended below 400 meters under the clouds, turned on the afterburner and flew nearby, at a speed of sound 10-15 at the speed of sound, as a result of which the plane Gagarin and Seryogin were turned over. This fact, according to Alexei Leonov, chose to hide the Soviet government in order not to punish the Su-15 pilot — after all, Gagarin and Seregin could not be returned, and the pilot on the Su-15 was also a professional, subordinate to Andrei Tupolev. If this version were declassified, then, taking into account public opinion, this officer would have to be punished very harshly - the people would demand the most serious, perhaps the highest punishment for the culprit of the death of the Soviet cosmonaut number one.
In 1963-1972 The Air Force cosmonaut training center was led by Major General Nikolai Kuznetsov, Hero of the Soviet Union, a participant in the Great Patriotic War and the Korean War, and a renowned fighter pilot. Belotserkovsky believed that in those conditions Kuznetsov could and should have canceled the training flight of Seregin and Gagarin, but this did not happen. Gagarin himself a minute before the collision, when he was negotiating with the ground, was in good condition. Most likely, the plane under his control hit the trail of another plane or collided with some foreign object - a probe, a flock of birds. Even a horizontal gust of wind, experts say, could have caused the plane crash.
By the way, General Kuznetsov himself, who led the Air Force Cosmonaut Training Center, noted that Colonel Seryogin most likely had health problems. At that time, he often complained of nausea and heart pain. During the flight, Seryogin could have a heart attack, which is why the colonel undid the seat belt and parachute straps. Gagarin, who was distracted by the control of the aircraft, did not notice what was happening to the instructor, and Sergin’s body, meanwhile, began to move around the cockpit and shifted the controls, blocking some of them. Gagarin did not begin to eject, but tried to circle around Novoselovo for about 10 minutes, hoping that Seregin would come to his senses. As a result, the astronaut died with his friend, without becoming a colleague in distress.
Lieutenant-General Aviation Stepan Anastasovich Mikoyan, Honored Test Pilot of the USSR, believed that getting the plane Seregina and Gagarin in the trail of a passing plane is extremely unlikely. According to Mikoyan, the plane most likely collided with a foreign object — a meteorological probe. According to Mikoyan, this version was supported by the fact that the instrument's pointer, showing the difference between the pressure inside the cabin and the outside, stopped at the –0,01 atmosphere level. That is, the tightness of the cabin was broken even before the collision of the aircraft with the ground. In addition, at the crash site, as noted by Mikoyan, only two-thirds of the cockpit canopy was collected, which also indicates a collision with some foreign object in the airspace.
Colonel Igor Kuznetsov, who was involved in investigating the circumstances of the catastrophe, believes that at the time of the collision with the ground the pilots were already unconscious - they had lost it because, having noticed the cabin depressurization, they began to decline sharply. The height difference led to the fact that both pilots were faint and lost control of the aircraft.
In addition to the versions put forward by professional pilots and aeronautical engineers, both then and now the “popular” versions of the death of Yuri Gagarin are widely distributed, which have very different and sometimes quite bizarre content. For example, "among the people" argued that Seregin and Gagarin allegedly flew drunk, using a glass of vodka. But this dubious version was refuted by the results of the examination - alcohol and other substances in the blood and the remains of the dead pilots were not found.
An even more insane version says that Yuri Gagarin allegedly organized an imitation of his own death, because he was tired of heightened attention to his person, while he himself retired to a remote village and died many years later as a result of an accident during a hunt. Another version of this version claims that in fact Gagarin was arrested by the Soviet special services, who underwent plastic surgery on his face and placed him in a closed psychiatric hospital, where he spent the remaining years of his life. Such versions, of course, do not hold water.
But there is one more aspect that, nevertheless, cannot be missed - the political background of the death of the first cosmonaut. It is known that as soon as the catastrophe occurred over the village of Novoselovo, in addition to the State Commission consisting of pilots, engineers and doctors, a separate special commission of the USSR State Security Committee was created. Her tasks were to find out whether Gagarin’s death had not been tampered with by some external forces — foreign special services, terrorist organizations, and whether the disaster was the result of abuse or negligence of the staff. As a result of the investigation, counterintelligence revealed numerous violations in the work of the airfield. Nevertheless, Major General Nikolai Kuznetsov retained the post of head of the Center for Cosmonaut Training of the USSR Air Force and held it for another four years after the catastrophe - until 1972. At that time, if Kuznetsov or his subordinates were really proven guilty, he would, of course, have lost his position.
The details of the investigation conducted by the KGB of the USSR, of course, remain classified. This circumstance gave rise to many rumors that Gagarin was "removed" by either foreign, or even the Soviet special services themselves. The first version is justified by the fact that the United States and other Western countries were interested in worsening the image of the Soviet state and the death of the first cosmonaut, who became a global figure, fit into these plans. The second version explains the catastrophe based on the confrontation within the Soviet elite itself, or the quarrel of Yuri Gagarin with representatives of the Soviet leadership.
Anyway, the 27 March tragedy 1968 of the year claimed the lives of two prominent Soviet pilots, one of whom was a real combat officer and a war hero, and the other the first person in the world to go into outer space. The urns with the ashes of Yuri Gagarin and Vladimir Seregin were buried in the Kremlin wall with military honors. Fifty years have passed, but the memory of Yuri Gagarin, the first cosmonaut, still keeps all of humanity. The disclosure of the authentic details of his death after half a century would have had an extremely positive significance for the country and for the further preservation of the memory of the legendary cosmonaut.