Gagarin is one of the most famous people in the world. He was an ordinary Soviet boy from a small town in the Smolensk region and he has become The Soviet version of the American dream. He has achieved the summit of glory fame without having a noble origin or relations with the Communist elite, or the obvious signs of genius. He was at such place, that many of us could only dream to go there.
Yuri Gagarin graduated from vocational school and he was trained as foundryman. So in general his career could have ended, because red diploma allowed him to get a job connected with his specialization in any factory near Moscow. But for Yuri it was not enough: the school for working youth and Industrial College have made him quite a good engineer. But “AeroClub” had interfered. He learned to fly in the aeroclub in Saratov for 2 years, and then he went to study aeronautics at the First Military Aviation School of Chkalov named after Voroshilov. Yuri also went to army and since 1957 (and by the time he was enlisted into the ranks of astronauts) Gagarin had been a member of squad of fighter pilots in the Air Regiment of the Northern Fleet as a first class airman.
Since March 1960 according to the public order, Yuri was enrolled in the ranks of the cosmonauts. So he started the secret preparations for flight.
Gagarin and Che Guevara
Yuri made only a pleasant impression because he was charming, erudite and at the same time he was simple. It is hard to meet so open and profound people. In his character you could see a surprising combination of softness and firmness, kindness and strictness of military bearing. During the first international conference the battered Western correspondents were stunned by his ability to respond to tricky questions in easy and jolly way like he was a graduating student of the family of businessmen.
Gagarin and Gina Lollobrigida
Korolev, who was selecting astronauts, has made a list of mandatory regulations. The first future man in space had to be a Communist Party member, age under 30 years old, weigh no more than 72 kg and height had to be no more than170 cm. Those were maximum parameters that the ship could carry. Korolev was in a hurry, because according to the reconnaissance, in the middle of April the first space flight was planned in the U.S., so the Soviet government could not permit such championship to happen, even during the Cold War. So during the last meeting Gagarin was appointed as a chief pilot and Titov was appointed as his back-up man.
As additional securing the system of engine braking was installed: to activate the system cosmonaut had to solve the problem of logic in order to get the access code. Three reports for TASS were made: about the successful flight, about the tragic death and about the ship, that crashed somewhere in the forest and the Soviet government asks for help.
On 12 April 1961, pilot-cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin lifted the spacecraft from Baikonur and immediately received the title of Hero of the Soviet Union. April 12 was proclaimed as the Day of Astronautics.
The most amusing was the memory of Yuri Gagarin after landing. Ship was found quickly, but it was without a pilot. Gagarin himself went to the airport by truck. Volovich, professor of Medicine, wanted to see the laughing and full of force astronaut, but he only heard a request “I would like to have some Borjomi.”
After Gagarin’s space flight, he has been awarded with a black Volga numbered 12-04 YAG (date and initials of the flight). And the letters were lawfully made from the index of the Moscow region (where Star City was located) — YA. Next astronauts had the same letters “YAG”, and the figures signified the date of the flight. Malfunction in the valve of the fuel system, the delay in the separation of the landing vehicle and fuel parts – all these facts were against the astronaut. That is why he landed in a field near the Engels in the Saratov region. Here the wife of a forester and her daughter met him. After that local military has arrived, Gagarin contacted with staff:
«Please convey to Air Force Commander: the task is done, I have landed in a given area. I feel good and I have no bruises or damages. Gagarin.”
From the book of Rossoshanskij “Phenomenon of Gagarin”:
… Moscow radio announcer Yuri Levitan on the 12 of April in 1961was awakened by a telephone call: “Go quickly to the studio! The car is waiting for you.” A few minutes later the car comes and on a wild speed delivers me in the studio.
In the studio the copy of “TASS report about the flight into space” was handed to me. So I’m running down through a long corridor, quickly trying to understand the meaning of written material. I was stopped by friends and I was asked: «What happened? What kind of message is that? «I scream:
— Man in Space!
I turned on the microphone:
— Moscow Speaking! All stations of the Soviet Union are working! ..
Yuri B. Levitan confessed: «When I was reading the text, I tried to be calm, but the tears of joy were covered my eyes. It was like on the 9th of May when I read «The act of unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany.» These broadcasts went directly to the people, to our compatriots and of course, to all people of Earth …»
Yuri Gagarin wrote in his book:
«… In these exciting early hours of returning to Earth from space many joyful meetings with friends and strangers have been. All these people were so close for me. Especially touching was a meeting with Gherman Titov, who flew from the spaceport in the area of landing with other comrades. We warmly hugged each other for a long time because of strong friendly feelings.
— Are you satisfied? — He asked me.
— Very, — I replied, — you will be satisfied in the same way next time. He had a lot questions to ask and I really wanted to tell him about everything, but doctors insisted on vacation, and I could not submit to their demands …»
Before the flight Yuri wrote a letter to his wife:
«Hello, my dear beloved Valechka, Helen and Galochka! I decided to write a few lines for you in order to share with you with joy and happiness that I would have had today. Today a government commission decided to send me into space. You know, dear Valya, I want you to be happy like me. I was entrusted such a large state task: to be the first man in space!
Could I desire more? It’s a story, this is a new era! I should start the next day. At the same time you will take care of your business. A very big task fell on my shoulders. I would like to stay a little longer with you and to talk to you before the big task. But, alas, you’re away. Nevertheless, I always feel you close to me.
I believe completely in the technique. It should not let me down. But sometimes man falls on the even road and breaks his neck. Here such things could happen too. But I do not believe in it. But if something will happen I ask you, Valya, don’t grieve. All in all, this is life and there are no guarantees, so you could be crushed by the car tomorrow. Please, take care of our daughters and love them like I do. Bring them up, so they could not be afraid of life’s problems. Bring up people, who would be worth of a new society — communism. The state will help you. And build your private life as you want. I have no rights to impose an obligation on you. Well, my letter is too mournful. I do not believe in it. I hope you will never see this letter because I am a bit ashamed of such fleeting weakness. But you must know everything if something will happen.
I lived honestly, truthfully for people’s good. When I was a child I read the words of Chkalov: “If you want to be, be the first”. So I try to follow these words to the end. I want to dedicate this flight to people of a new society of communism, in which we are entering, to our great Motherland, to our science.
I hope that within a few days we’ll be together again, we will be happy. Valya, please do not forget my parents, and if it is possible, help them. Give them my regards and ask them to forgive me, because they don’t know what happens. Well, that is all that I wanted to tell. Good-bye, my dearest. Tightly-tightly hug you and kiss you with regards, your dad and Jura. 10/04/1961. Gagarin».
Gagarin asked the command to give this letter to his wife if he will be dead. Valentina has read it after her husband’s death in a plane crash in March 27, 1968.
108 minutes of flight and infinite number of minutes of fame for many years.
After the mysterious death Yuri Gagarin still remains a great man. Or maybe he just flew away without promising to come back?