The task was technically extremely difficult, despite numerous experiments and long research scientific design ideas of Western states, and failed to create reliable protection for aeronautics. For the first time in the world, this problem was brilliantly resolved by the Russian scientist and inventor Gleb Kotelnikov, who designed the first parachute in the world in 1911, which fully meets the requirements for aviation rescue equipment of that time. All modern models of parachutes created by the concept of the invention Kotelnikov.
Gleb Evgenievich was born on January 18 (old style) 1872, in the family of a professor of higher mathematics and mechanics of the St. Petersburg Institute. Kotelnikov's parents adored the theater, were fond of painting and music, often staged amateur performances in the house. It is not surprising that, being brought up in such a situation, the boy fell in love with art, caught fire with the desire to perform on stage.
Young Kotelnikov showed outstanding abilities in learning to play the piano and other musical instruments. In a short time a talented guy mastered the mandolin, balalaika and violin, began to write their own music. Surprisingly, along with this, Gleb was also interested in technology and fencing. The guy from birth had what they say "golden hands", he could easily make an intricate device from improvised means. For example, when the future inventor was only thirteen years old, he independently assembled a working camera. And he bought only a second-hand lens, and the rest (including photographic plates) was made with his own hands. The father encouraged the inclinations of his son and tried to develop them as much as he could.
Gleb dreamed of getting into the conservatory or the technological institute, but his plans had to be drastically changed after the sudden death of his father. The financial situation of the family deteriorated sharply, leaving the music and theater classes, he volunteered for the army, enrolling in the military artillery school in Kiev. He graduated from it Gleb Evgenievich in 1894, with honors, was promoted to officer and served in the army for three years. Going to the reserve, he got a job in the provincial excise department. At the beginning of 1899, Kotelnikov married Yulia Volkova, the daughter of the artist V.A. Volkov. The young people knew each other since childhood, their marriage turned out to be happy - they lived in rare harmony for forty-five years.
For ten years Kotelnikov worked as an excise official. This stage of his life was, without exaggeration, the most empty and heavy. It was hard to imagine a service more alien to this creative person. The only outlet for him was the local theater, in which Gleb Yevgenyevich was both an actor and artistic director. In addition, he continued to design. For workers at the local distillery Kotelnikov developed a new model of the filling machine. Equipped his bike with a sail and successfully applied it on long journeys.
One day, Kotelnikov clearly realized that it was necessary to change his life abruptly, forget about the excise and move to Petersburg. Yulia Vasilyevna, despite the fact that they already had three children by that time, understood her husband perfectly well. A talented artist, she also pinned high hopes on the move. In 1910, the Kotelnikov family arrived in the northern capital, and Gleb Evgenievich got a job in the National House troupe, becoming a professional actor under the pseudonym Glebov-Kotelnikov in the thirty-ninth year of her life.
At the beginning of the last century, demonstration flights of the first domestic pilots were often carried out in large cities of Russia, during which aviators demonstrated their art in aircraft control. Gleb Evgenievich, who from childhood had loved the technique, could not help but become interested in aviation. He regularly traveled to the Commandant airfield, watching the flights with enthusiasm. Kotelnikov clearly understood the enormous prospects for mankind to conquer airspace. He was also admired by the courage and dedication of the Russian pilots who soared into the sky on unstable, primitive machines.
During one “aviation week”, the famous pilot Matsievich who flew off the seat, flew out of the car. Lost control aircraft turned over several times in the air and fell to the ground after the pilot. This was the first loss of Russian aviation. Gleb Evgenievich witnessed a terrible event that made him an impression. Soon, the actor and just a talented Russian made a firm decision to secure the work of the pilots by building a special rescue device for them, capable of operating reliably in the air.
After some time, his apartment turned into a real workshop. Everywhere there were scattered hanks of wire and straps, wooden bars and pieces of matter, sheet metal and a variety of various tools. Kotelnikov clearly understood that there was no help waiting for him. Who in those conditions at that time could seriously think that some actor was able to invent a life-saving device that scientists from England, Germany, France and America had been fighting for several years? Funds for the upcoming work also had a limited amount, so it was necessary to spend them extremely economically.
Gleb Evgenievich spent whole nights drawing various blueprints and making models of life-saving appliances on them. He dropped the finished specimens from launched kites or rooftops. Experiments went one after another. In between, the inventor reworked unsuccessful options, looking for new materials. Thanks to the historian of domestic aviation and aeronautics A.A. Native Kotelnikov got books on flight case. He paid special attention to ancient documents telling about primitive devices used by people when descending from various heights. After much research, Gleb Evgenievich came to the following important conclusions: “For use on an airplane, a light and strong parachute is necessary. It should be quite small in the folded state ... The main thing is that the parachute should always be with the person. In this case, the pilot will be able to jump off any side or wing of the aircraft. ”
After a series of unsuccessful experiments, Kotelnikov accidentally saw in the theater how one lady took out a huge silk shawl from a small handbag. This led him to the idea that thin silk may be the most suitable material for a folding parachute. The resulting model was small in size, durable, elastic, and easily deployed. Kotelnikov planned to place the parachute in the pilot's helmet. A special coil spring should, if necessary, push the rescue projectile out of the helmet. And so that the lower edge quickly shaped the dome, and the parachute could be filled with air, the inventor let an elastic and thin metal cable pass through the lower edge.
Gleb Evgenievich thought about the task of protecting the pilot from an excessive jerk at the time of opening the parachute. Special attention was paid to the design of the suspension system and the attachment of a life-saving device to a person. The inventor correctly assumed that attaching a parachute to a person at one point (as in aeronautic spassnjadah) would give an extremely strong jerk in the place where the cord would be attached. In addition, with this method of attachment people until the moment of landing will rotate in the air, which is also quite dangerous. Refusing such a scheme, Kotelnikov developed his own, quite original solution - he divided all parachute lines into two parts, attaching them to two hanging straps. Such a system evenly distributed the force of a dynamic strike throughout the body when the parachute opened, and the shock-absorbing gums on the suspension belts softened the blow even more. The inventor also took into account the mechanism of quick release from a parachute after landing in order to avoid dragging a person along the ground.
Having collected a new model, Gleb Evgenievich passed to her tests. The parachute was fixed on the dummy, which was then dropped from the roof. Without a hitch, the parachute jumped out of the head helmet, opened and smoothly lowered the dummy to the ground. Joy of the inventor was no limit. However, when he decided to calculate the area of the dome, capable of withstanding and successfully (at a speed of about 5 m / s), put an eighty kilogram load on the ground, it turned out that it (the area) had to be at least fifty square meters. It was absolutely impossible to put so much silk, even if it was very light, into a pilot's helmet. However, the ingenious inventor was not upset, after much deliberation, he decided to put the parachute in a special bag, worn over his back.
Having prepared all the necessary drawings of the parachute, Kotelnikov began to create the first prototype and at the same time a special doll. For several days hard work was going on in his house. It helped the inventor of his wife - she spent the whole nights stitching intricately cut linen cloths.
The parachute of Gleb Evgenievich, later called the RC-1 (Russian-Kotelnikovsky version of the first model), consisted of a metal satchel on its back, which had a special shelf inside, placed on two spiral springs. Lanyards fit on the shelf, and already on them the dome itself. The lid was hinged with internal springs for faster opening. To open the lid, the pilot had to pull the cord, after which the springs pushed the dome out. Remembering the death of Macievich, Gleb Evgenievich provided a mechanism for the forced opening of the knapsack. It was very simple - the lock of the knapsack was connected with an airplane using a special cable. If the pilot, for whatever reason, could not pull the cord, then the safety cable should have opened the satchel for it, and then, under the weight of the human body, break off.
The parachute itself consisted of twenty-four canvases and had a pole hole. The slings passed through the entire dome along radial seams and connected twelve pieces on each suspension strap, which, in turn, were fastened with special hooks to the suspension system, worn on a person and consisting of chest, shoulder and waist belts, and leg straps. The device of the sling system allowed the parachute to be controlled during descent.
The closer to the end of the work, the more nervous the scientist was. It seemed that he had thought everything over, had calculated everything, and had foreseen everything, but how would the parachute show itself on trial? In addition, Kotelnikov did not have a patent for his invention. Anyone who saw and understood his principle of action could assign all rights to himself. Knowing well the manners of foreign businessmen flooding Russia, Gleb Evgenievich tried to keep his designs secret for as long as possible. When the parachute was ready, he went with him to Novgorod, choosing a deaf, remote place for experiments. His son and nephews helped him in this. The parachute and mannequin were raised to a height of fifty meters with the help of a huge snake, also created by the tireless Kotelnikov. The parachute was thrown out of the knapsack by springs, the dome quickly turned around and the dummy gently sank to the ground. Having repeated the experiments several times, the scientist became convinced that his invention worked flawlessly.
Kotelnikov understood that his device must be urgently introduced into aviation. Russian pilots were required in case of an accident must have on hand a reliable means of rescue. Inspired by the tests, he hastily returned to St. Petersburg and 10 August 1911 wrote a detailed memo to the Minister of War, beginning with the following sentence: “A long and mournful synodic of aviation victims prompted me to invent a rather simple and useful device to prevent the death of aviators in an air crash ...” . Further, the letter set out the technical characteristics of the parachute, a description of its manufacturing process and test results. All device drawings were also attached to the note. However, the note, having got into the Military Engineering Directorate, was lost. Surrounded by the lack of an answer, Gleb Evgenievich decided to personally appeal to the Minister of War. After long ordeals in the offices of officials, Kotelnikov finally got to the deputy minister of war. Having presented him a working parachute model, he long and convincingly argued the usefulness of his invention. The Deputy Minister of War, without rewarding him with a response, handed him a referral to the Main Military Engineering Directorate.
October 27 1911, Gleb Evgenievich submitted a patent application to the Committee on Inventions, and a few days later he appeared in the Engineering Lock with a note in his hands. General von Roop appointed a special commission to consider the invention of Kotelnikov, chaired by General Alexander Kovanko, who was the head of the Aeronautical Service. And here Kotelnikova suffered a major setback for the first time. In accordance with the Western theories that existed at that time, the chairman of the commission declared that the pilot should leave the aircraft only after the parachute was opened (or simultaneously with the disclosure). Otherwise, he will inevitably die during the snatch. In vain, the inventor explained in detail and proved to the general about his own, original way of solving this problem found by him. Kovanko stubbornly stood his ground. Not wanting to ponder the mathematical calculations of Kotelnikov, the commission rejected the remarkable device, imposing the resolution “As superfluous”. Kotelnikov also did not receive a patent for his invention.
Despite this conclusion, Gleb Evgenievich did not lose heart. He managed to register a parachute in France 20 March 1912 of the year. In addition, he was determined to pursue official trials in his homeland. The designer convinced himself that after the demonstration of the invention, the parachute will be immediately implemented. Almost every day he visited various departments of the War Ministry. He wrote: “As soon as everyone sees how a parachute lowers a person to the ground, they will immediately change their mind. They will understand that it is also necessary on the plane, like a lifebuoy on a ship ... ”. Kotelnikov spent a lot of money and energy before he managed to achieve testing. The new prototype parachute cost him a few hundred rubles. Having no support from the government, Gleb Evgenievich got into debt, relations in the main service deteriorated, since he could spend less and less time in the company.
2 June 1912, Kotelnikov conducted a parachute test for the strength of materials, and also checked the resistance force of the dome. To do this, he attached his device to the towing hooks of the car. Having dispersed the car to 70 versts per hour (about 75 km / h), the inventor pulled the trigger cord. Parachute instantly opened, and the car was immediately stopped by the force of air resistance. The design is fully weathered, no breaks of the lines or tears of matter were found. By the way, stopping the car brought the designer to the idea of developing an air brake for aircraft during landing. Later he even made one prototype, but it did not go further. "Authoritative" minds from the Military Engineering Directorate told Kotelnikov that his next invention has no future. Many years later, the air brake as a “novelty” was patented in the United States.
A parachute test was scheduled for 6 Jun 1912. The venue was the village of Saluzi, located near St. Petersburg. Despite the fact that the experimental model of Kotelnikov was designed and designed specifically for the aircraft, he had to carry out tests from the aeronautic device - at the very last moment the Military Engineering Directorate imposed a ban on experiments from the aircraft. In his memoirs, Gleb Evgenievich wrote that the dummy for the jump was made by him similar to General Alexander Kovanko - with exactly the same mustache and long tanks. The doll was attached to the side of the basket on a rope loop. After the balloon rose to a height of two hundred meters, the pilot Gorshkov cut one of the ends of the loop. The mannequin separated from the basket and began to rapidly fall upside down. The audience present held its breath, dozens of eyes and binoculars watched from the ground. And suddenly the white speck of the parachute formed into the dome. “Hurray” sounded and everyone ran to get a closer look at how the parachute drops ... There was no wind, and the mannequin stood on the grass with his feet, stood for a few seconds and then just fell. ” The parachute was dropped from different heights several more times, and all the experiments were successful.
The site was attended by many pilots and aeronautics, correspondents of various magazines and newspapers, foreigners, by hook or by crook, who entered the tests. Everyone, even those incompetent in such matters, understood that this invention opens up tremendous opportunities for further conquest of the air spaces.
The next day, most of the capital's print media reported on the successful testing of a new rescue aircraft propelled by a talented Russian designer. However, despite the general interest shown to the invention, the Military Engineering Directorate did not react at all to the event. And when Gleb Evgenievich started a conversation about new tests already from a flying plane, he received a categorical refusal. Among other objections, it was argued that dropping a dummy weighing 80 a kilogram from a light aircraft would lead to loss of balance and the imminent catastrophe of the aircraft. Officials declared that they would not allow the inventor to risk the machine “for the sake of pleasure”.
Only after long, exhausting persuasion and conviction did Kotelnikov manage to get permission for the tests. Experiments on dropping a parachute doll from a monoplane flying at an altitude of 80 meters were successfully conducted in Gatchina on September 26 of the year 1912. By the way, before the first test, the pilot threw sandbags three times in the air in order to make sure that the aircraft was stable. "London News" wrote: "Can the pilot escape? Yes. We will talk about the invention adopted by the Russian government ... ". The British naively assumed that the tsarist government would necessarily use this wonderful and necessary invention. However, not everything was so simple in reality. Successful tests still did not change the attitude of the leadership of the Military Engineering Directorate to the parachute. Moreover, the resolution came from the greatest Prince Alexander Mikhailovich, who wrote in response to a petition for the introduction of the Kotelnikovsky invention: “Parachutes are generally harmful, because the pilots will flee to them with any danger threatening them…. We import airplanes from abroad, and they should be protected. And we’ll find people, not those, but others! ”
As time went. The number of aircraft accidents continued to grow. Gleb Kotelnikov, a patriot and inventor of advanced life-saving equipment, is worried about this one after another unanswered letters to the Minister of War and the entire Aeronautical Department of the General Staff: “... they (pilots) are dying in vain, while they could be useful sons of the Fatherland at the right time ... , ... I am eager to fulfill my duty to the Motherland ..., ... such an attitude to a useful and important matter for me, a Russian officer, is incomprehensible and insulting. ”
At that time, while Kotelnikov tried in vain to implement a parachute at home, he was closely watched over the course of events from abroad. Many interested people came to Petersburg, representing various offices and ready to “assist” the author. One of them - Wilhelm Lomach, who was the owner of several aviation workshops in St. Petersburg, offered the inventor to open private manufacture of parachutes, and only in Russia. Gleb Evgenievich, who is in extremely difficult material conditions, agreed to the office of “Lomach and Co.” to present his invention at competitions in Paris and Rouen. Soon, an enterprising foreigner received permission from the French government to perform a parachute jump of a living person. The person who wanted it was also found soon - he became a Russian athlete and an ardent fan of the new invention, Vladimir Ossovsky, a student at the Petersburg Conservatory. The place was chosen bridge over the Seine in the city of Rouen. A jump from fifty-three meters high took place on January 5 1913. The parachute worked flawlessly, the dome fully opened when Ossovsky flew the 34 meter. Last 19 meters he descended 12 seconds and landed on the water.
The French enthusiastically greeted the Russian paratrooper. Many entrepreneurs tried to independently start the production of this rescue tool. Already in 1913, the first models of parachutes began to appear abroad, representing slightly modified copies of the RC-1. Foreign companies have accumulated huge amounts of money on their release. Despite the pressure of the Russian public, more and more often reproaching the indifference to Kotelnikov’s invention, the tsarist government stubbornly stood its ground. Moreover, for the domestic pilots, a massive purchase of the French parachutes of the Jükmes design, which were mounted at one point, was made.
By the time the First World War began. After the multi-engine heavy bombers Ilya Muromets appeared in Russia, the demand for life-saving equipment increased significantly. At the same time, there were a number of deaths of aviators who used French parachutes. Some pilots began to ask to provide them with parachutes RK-1. In this regard, the Military Ministry appealed to Gleb Evgenievich with a request to produce an experimental batch in 70 pieces. The designer with great energy took up the job. As a consultant at the manufacturing plant, he applied all his strength to ensure that the life-saving equipment fully met the requirements. Parachutes were made on time, but further production was again suspended. And then there was a socialist revolution and a civil war broke out.
Years later, the new government decided to start the production of parachutes, the demand for which increased in the aviation units and aeronautical detachments every day. Parachute RK-1 was widely used in Soviet aviation on different fronts. Gleb Evgenievich also got the opportunity to continue work on improving his rescue device. Organized by Zhukovsky’s first research institution in the field of aerodynamics, known as the “Flying Laboratory,” a theoretical study of his invention was carried out with a complete analysis of the aerodynamic properties. The works not only confirmed the correctness of Kotelnikov’s calculations, but also gave him invaluable information in the matter of improving and developing new samples of parachutes.
Jumping with the new rescue device were held more and more often. Along with the introduction of parachutes in the field of aviation, they attracted increasing attention of ordinary residents. Experienced and experimental jumps gathered masses of people, looking more like theatrical performances than scientific research. Began to create circles for teaching skydiving, representing this tool not only as a rescue device, but also as a projectile of a new sports discipline.
In August, 1923, Gleb Evgenievich proposed a new model with a semi-soft satchel, called the RC-2. Its demonstration in the USSR Scientific and Technical Committee showed good results, it was decided to make an experimental batch. However, the inventor has already rushed with his new brainchild. The RC-3 model of a completely original design was released in the 1924 year and was the first parachute in the world with a soft backpack. In it, Gleb Evgenievich got rid of the spring-pushing dome, inside the satchel on the back he placed cells-cells for the lines, he replaced the lock with tubular loops, into which the studs attached to the common cable were threaded. The test results were excellent. Later, many foreign developers borrowed Kotelnikov's improvements, applying them to their models.
Anticipating the future development and use of parachutes, Gleb Evgenievich in 1924 year designed and patented the basket rescue device PK-4 with a dome with a diameter of twelve meters. This parachute was designed to drop cargo weighing up to three hundred kilograms. In order to save material and give greater stability, the model was made of percale. Unfortunately, this type of parachute has not been used.
The appearance of multi-seat aircraft forced Kotelnikov to take up the issue of jointly saving people during an accident in the air. Assuming that a man or a woman with a child who did not have experience in skydiving, in an emergency will not be able to use an individual rescue tool, Gleb Evgenievich developed options for collective rescue.
In addition to the inventive activity, Kotelnikov led a wide public work. With his own strength, knowledge and experience, he helped flying clubs, talked with young athletes, gave lectures on stories creating rescue equipment for aviators. In the 1926 year, due to age (the designer turned fifty-five years old), Gleb Evgenievich retired to develop new models, transferring all his inventions and improvements in the field of aviation rescue devices as a gift to the Soviet government. For outstanding services designer was awarded the Order of the Red Star.
After the beginning of World War II Kotelnikov was in the besieged Leningrad. Despite his years, the almost blind inventor took an active part in the air defense of the city, fearlessly bearing all the war. In the worst condition he was evacuated to Moscow after the first blockade winter. Having recovered, Gleb Evgenievich continued his creative activity, in 1943, his book Parachute was published, and a little later, a study on the subject of “The History of Parachute and the Development of Parachute”. A talented inventor died in the Russian capital 22 November 1944 of the year. His grave is located at the Novodevichy cemetery and is a place of pilgrimage for parachutists.
(According to the materials of the book by G.V. Zalutsky “Inventor of the aviation parachute G.Ye. Kotelnikov”).