One of the first domestic aviators loved sports and was a very versatile person and a talented athlete - swordsman, swimmer, boxer, bike, motorcycle and race driver, yachtsman, football player. His contribution to the promotion of aviation in Russia in the 1910-1914 years is truly great. At this time, Utochkin made dozens of demonstration flights in many cities of the empire. At the same time, his flights were observed by future famous pilots and aircraft designers, among whom were S.V. Ilyushin, I.I. Sikorsky, P.O. Sukhoi, S.P. Korolev and many others. His friend, the writer Alexander Kuprin, wrote about him: "Of the many people I have seen, he is the brightest in originality and spirit of the figure."
Sergey Isaevich Utochkin was born in Odessa on July 12 1876, in a merchant family. His father belonged to the 2 th merchant guild, being considered a very successful construction contractor. In 1881, at the age of five, he was left without a mother who died in childbirth, giving birth to his younger brother. And soon, after becoming ill with tuberculosis, Sergey's father also passed away. The relatives of the father took over the custody of the orphaned children of the Utochkin family. At first it was a cousin. But then the boys began to be brought up from strangers who took them to the boarding house with money left by their father.
As a child, Sergei Utochkin witnessed a tragedy that left an imprint on his entire life. In the family of the teacher of Richelieu gymnasium, a certain Krause, in which he was brought up, there was a real tragedy. The father of the family got drunk and hanged himself, for several days nothing was known about him until his wife found him in the attic of the house. What she saw deprived her mind, the woman took a knife and stabbed her children. Sergey woke up from terrible screams, saw around a pool of blood and the insane eyes of a woman with a knife in her hands. He managed to escape literally a miracle, but from then until the end of his life he stuttered. Even despite his sporting achievements in the future, he was forever a man of heightened sensitivity and an unstable psyche, his fate was to some extent predetermined by the terrible events of childhood.
Prior to 15, Sergei studied at St. Paul’s commercial school in Odessa, after which he left school to practice sports, which brought him all-Russian fame. In an autobiographical essay published in 1913 under the title “My Confession”, Sergei Isaevich Utochkin wrote that he had successfully engaged in 15 sports. Not possessing any outstanding natural data, Utochkin managed to achieve success in sports due to his strength of will and great diligence. So he became the champion of Odessa in fencing, tennis, speed skating, rowing, boxing, swimming and wrestling. Independently engaged in the construction of the yacht and then won her sailing regattas. He even managed to sink to the bottom of the sea in a diving suit. In addition, Sergey Utochkin became one of the first football players in the country, playing for the amateur team of the Odessa British Athletic Club. At that time, football in the Russian Empire was cultivated mainly among foreigners, however Sergey Utochkin broke this tradition, having established two football clubs in Odessa at once, in one of them he was elected captain. Utochkin was also one of the first in the country who mastered roller skates. The future aviator made parachute jumps, was engaged in jiu-jitsu, later became a famous cyclist, drove a car and a motorcycle.
Being a very versatile athlete, Utochkin achieved the greatest success as a cyclist. Odessa writer Valentin Kataev later wrote in his memoirs: "The bicycle was the element of Utochkin." At the turn of the century, at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries, Odessa was considered a real center of cycling in the south of Russia. Sergey Utochkin became a member of the Odessa Society of Amateur Cyclists in the spring of 1890, after which over the next 20 years he achieved multiple victories in competitions both domestically and abroad. So he repeatedly became the champion and record holder of Russia and won awards at international cycling competitions, which were held in Europe.
Often Sergei Utochkin, even yielding to more eminent athletes in the experience, knew how to achieve victory, thanks to his endurance and endurance, which allowed him to save strength for the spurt at the very finish. The ability to finish made Utochkina a very famous cyclist in Europe. The 1895-1905 years were a time of very high popularity of cycling in the Russian Empire, and Sergey Utochkin was recognized as an unsurpassed sprinter and was one of the favorites of the Russian public. According to Utochkin himself, it is the skills that he acquired during sports that helped him in the future independently and in a relatively short time to master the management of various aeronautical devices, first of all - by airplanes.
In this case, the famous Odessa sportsman was not enough to win only on the cycle track or the football field, Utochkin wanted to expand the limits of human capabilities. To do this, he ran a race with the Odessa steam tram, competed on roller skates against a cyclist, and on a bicycle with a race horse, and, with the same success, achieving victories. The famous Potemkin Staircase in Odessa became for Sergei a real source of sports tricks: he descended her steps on a motorcycle, bicycle and car.
At the same time, doing sports, Sergey Utochkin did not make any fortune for himself. On the contrary, he spent personal funds to purchase sports equipment and equipment, paid for trips to competitions in Russia and abroad. His expenses increased significantly after he became interested in aviation and aeronautics. At the same time, Utochkin never denied anyone any material assistance, and his generosity and responsiveness were well known to the people of Odessa.
October 2 1907 in Odessa, after a series of unsuccessful attempts, Utochkin was able to make an independent flight on a balloon he bought. This flight took place at an altitude of 1200 meters above ground. And in 1908, he and his friend went to Egypt, where he also made several flights.
In the autumn of 1908, Henri Farman, a French aviator, made his famous flight almost 30 kilometers in France in a biplane made by Farman brothers, and on July 25 1909, another Frenchman, Louis Bleriau, made a flight from France to England, breaking the La Strait -Manche by air, for which he was presented to the Order of the Legion of Honor. These and other world events that were related to aviation, as well as the demonstration flights of foreign pilots that began in 1909 in the Russian Empire, have aroused genuine interest in and enthusiasm for aeronautics in the country. Sergei Isaevich could not stay away from this.
Around the same time, a number of Russian pilots, including those representing Odessa, began to study abroad. March 31 (April 13 on the new style) 1910, Sergey Utochkin took off for the first time in the Farman-IV biplane, which belonged to the Odessa banker Xydias. Subsequently, Sergei bought him a biplane, using the aircraft in his subsequent tour of Russian cities. Sergei Utochkin became the second certified pilot in the history of Russian aeronautics (the first was Mikhail Efimov). If Mikhail Efimov mastered flying skills in France at the Farman school, then Sergei Utochkin learned to fly independently and already in the spring of 1910, he successfully passed the examinations for the title of pilot-aviator in the Odessa flying club, and later confirmed his title at the IWAC - Imperial All-Russian Aviation Club. Already in May, 1910, Sergey Utochkin began performing demonstration flights in Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Nizhny Novgorod. In total, in the 1910-1912 years, Sergey Utochkin performed the order of 150 flights, visiting 70 cities in the Russian Empire and beyond.
Sergei Utochkin became the first Russian aviator who raised the airplane in the Moscow sky. Professor Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovsky, who was present during these first flights, noted that in addition to his ability and knowledge, Sergey has an innate ability for an aviator. Demonstrations of flights performed by Sergey Utochkin gathered thousands of crowds of spectators. For example, 22 on April 1910 in Kiev on demonstration flights was attended by up to 49 00 spectators. On the performance of Utochkina in Baku, which took place on October 23 1910, came about 20 000 people.
In the summer of 1910, the peak of glory and popularity of the aviator in Russia fell. For example, on July 3, in the presence of a large number of spectators, the Farman aircraft under the control of Utochkin rose into the sky. He took off from the territory of the Factory, Artistic, Industrial and Agricultural All-Russian Exhibition in Odessa, having flown over the Gulf of Odessa. This flight for Utochkin was the jubilee - the hundredth. Some media have compared it in importance with the famous flight of Bleriot over the English Channel.
In July, 1911, Sergey Utochkin took part in a grand for that time flight on the route Petersburg - Moscow. Rising to the sky from the Kolomyazhsky airfield, several aircraft immediately headed for Moscow. In this case, not all flew to the end point of the route. During the flight, one pilot was killed, three more were injured of varying severity. Sergei Utochkin himself suffered an accident in the territory of the Novgorod province, under the Sacra, - here his airplane crashed into the river bank and fell into small pieces. But for the aviator everything ended well enough, although Sergei had a fractured collarbone, dislocated knees and numerous bruises and abrasions all over his body, but the most important thing was that he literally survived in this accident.
By that time, freckled and fiery-red Sergey Utochkin had already learned and loved the whole country. He was a real public idol. Even during his life, books and articles about him began to appear in the world, and in the USSR a feature film “In the Loop of the Dead” was shot about him, in which the main role was played by Oleg Strizhenov. In those years, aerial adventures and somersaults on the verge of Utochkin’s hooliganism became the subject of discussion and the jokes of ordinary people for a long time. The aviator began to make public flights again only in 1912, having recovered from the consequences of the accident. At the same time, he visited not only major, but also small Russian cities. In particular, in the spring of 1912, he visited the village of Kamenskaya, located on the Seversky Donets, in the Don Army Region.
By that time, numerous accidents and injuries suffered by Utochkin, chronic insomnia and severe headaches, as well as nervous breakdown amid personal family drama (during his illness in the summer of 1911, his wife left him) led to an emotional fallen aviator. In 1913, he developed into a mental disorder. The abuse was also caused by the abuse of first painkillers containing morphine, and then hashish and cocaine, which the pilot met back in 1908, in Egypt, during balloon flights here. A certain role was also played by the fact that Sergey Isaevich failed to achieve the same achievements in ballooning as he managed to achieve in sports. Sergei Utochkin did not become the best Russian pilot. In addition, the Russian public, whose opinion Utochkin always valued strongly, continued to see him as an eccentric athlete, a kind of aerial acrobat, and not a hero-aviator.
[/ center [center]] Bronze monument to the pioneer of Russian aviation Sergei Utochkin, installed in Odessa at Deribasovskaya Street, 22
The last years of his life were spent in St. Petersburg, Chisinau and his native Odessa. Periods of treatment were replaced by periods of need and job searches. At that time, the reputation of the "madman" was firmly established for Utochkin. The relapses of his mental illness, which were fed by the use of narcotic drugs, gave way to a normal state, but Utochkin could no longer arrange his life. He did not have permanent earnings, earning money only by playing billiards. At the same time, Kuprin published his memoirs in The Blue Magazine.
Started in August 1914, the First World War aroused new hopes in Sergey. He was eager to get to the front, to be in aviation, believing that the accumulated knowledge and skills in aeronautics would be in demand in battles. But wherever the pilot went, everywhere he received only waivers — he was considered not quite normal for military service, and even the favorable reviews of some doctors did not convince members of military draft boards.
In the end, his perseverance provided the result. In 1915, he achieved enrollment in the automobile-aviation squad near Petrograd with the rank of ensign. Here he was an instructor, again having the opportunity to do his favorite thing - flights. During one of these flights in December 1915, the pilot caught a very bad cold and was hospitalized in St. Nicholas the Wonderworker Hospital on the Moika River. Here he died of complications caused by pneumonia, on the night of the new 1916 year. The pioneer of Russian aviation died on December 31 1915 (January 13 1916 of the new style). He passed away in his incomplete 40 years, five of which he gave to aviation. Sergei Utochkin was buried in St. Petersburg at Nikolsky cemetery of the Alexander Nevsky Monastery.
Based on materials from open sources