Tag Archives: Hero of the Russian Federation

26 April 1995

Roman Taskaev in the cockpit of a Mikoyan MiG-29 in flight over Canada, circa 1990. (Vintage Wings of Canada)

26 April 1995: Mikoyan test pilot Roman Petrovich Taskaev flew a MiG-29 to a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) World Altitude Record of 27,460 meters (90,092 feet) at Aerodrome Akhtubinsk, Russia. This record still stands.¹

Роман Петрович Таскаев (Roman Petrovich Taskaev) was born at Khilok, Zabayaski Krai, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, 14 October 1954.

From 1967 through 1971, Taskaev was a member of the Chita aero club, where he participated in gliding and skydiving.

Taskaev entered the Soviet Army in 1971. In 1975, he graduated from the National University of Internal Affairs at Kharkiv, Ukraine Soviet Socialist Republic. He then served with several combat units of the Soviet Air Force. He was promoted to the rank of captain in 1981.

Роман Петрович Таскаев

Captain Taskaev attended the School of Test Pilots in 1983. He was then assigned to the Mikoyan Design Bureau as a test pilot in June 1983. He remained there through May 1998. he was a senior test pilot 1992–1997. He was involved in flight testing the variants of the Mikoyan MiG-23, MiG-25, MiG-29 and MiG-31. He flew a MiG-31 over the North Pole.

Taksaev has ejected from a MiG-23UB at very low altitude and maximum speed following an engine failure, and from a MiG-29M.

By decree of the president of the Russian Federation, 16 August 1992, Taskaev was named a Hero of the Russian Federation with Gold Star. In 1996, he was awarded the order of Courage, and in 1998, he was named an Honored Test Pilot of the Russian Federation.

Since 1998, Roman Taskaev has served as Deputy Director of Flight Testing at the Yakovlev Design Bureau.

Roman Taskaev holds his FAI record certificate. (FAI)

The Mikoyan MiG-29 is a fourth generation, single-seat, twin-engine, Mach 2+ air superiority fighter built by the Mikoyan Design Bureau. It entered service with the Soviet Union in 1983 and has been widely exported to many other nations.

The MiG 29 is 17.320 meters (56 feet, 9.89 inches) long, including the pitot boom. The wingspan is 11.360 meters (37 feet, 3.24 inches) and the overall height is 4.730 meters (15 feet, 6.22 inches). They have an area of 38 square meters (409 square feet). The wings’ leading edges are swept aft to 42°. They have approximately 5° anhedral. The two vertical fins are tilted outboard 6° and their leading edges are swept to 50°. The horizontal stabilizers are swept to 47° 30′.

The fighter has a basic weight of 15,775 kilograms (34,778 pounds) with full internal fuel and a centerline tank. Its maximum takeoff weight is 18,480 kilograms (40,741 pounds).

MiG 29 three-view illustration with dimensions

The fighter is powered by two Klimov RD-33 engines. The RD-33 is a two-spool, axial-flow, afterburning turbofan with a 13 stage compressor section (4 low- and 9 high-pressure stages) and a two-stage turbine (1 high- and 1 low-pressure stages). It has a military power rating of 49.43 kilonewtons (11,111 pounds of thrust), and 81.40 kilonewtons (18,298 pounds) with afterburner. The RD-33 is 1.040 meters (3 feet, 6.95 inches) in diameter, 4.229 meters (13 feet, 10.50 inches) long, and weighs 1,055 kilograms (2,326 pounds).

The MiG 29 has a maximum speed of Mach 2.25 and a service ceiling of 59,100 feet (18,013 meters). Maximum range with internal fuel is 1,430 kilometers (888 miles).

Armament consists of one Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-301 30mm autocannon with 150 rounds of ammunition, and a combination of air-to-air missiles, rockets or bombs carried on underwing pylons or fuselage hard points.

More than 1,600 MiG 29s have been built.

Mikoyan MiG-29SMT RF-92934 (“22 Red”), Russian Air Force. (Alex Beltyukov/Wikipedia)

¹ FAI Record File Number 2554

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes


19 July 1943

Екатерина Васильевна Буданова (Ekaterina Vasilievna Budanova)

19 July 1943: The Soviet fighter ace, Lieutenant Екатерина Васильевна Буданова (Ekaterina Vasilievna Budanova) was killed in action at Novo-Krasnnvka, Lugansk region, Ukraine. She had been escorting a group of Ilyushin Il-2 dive bombers when her Yakovlev Yak-1 fighter was engaged by three Messerschmitt Bf 109s. She shot down one of the enemy fighters and damaged another, but was herself mortally wounded during the engagement. She was able to land her fighter, but died soon after.

Lieutenant Budanova was posthumously named a Hero of the Soviet Union and awarded the Order of the Patriotic War, 1st Degree.

Yakovlev Yak-1

Ekaterina Vasilievna Budanova was born in the village of Konolyanka, Smolenskaya Oblast, Imperial Russia, 7 December 1916. She was orphaned at an early age. She had an elementary education. Ekaterina Vasilievna travelled to Moscow searching for work. While working in a factory at Fila, she took flying lessons at the local flying club, and qualified as a pilot an an instructor.

From 1934 to 1941, Ekaterina Vasilievna worked as an instructor for the aero club.

Comrade Budanova entered the women’s aviation units of the Soviet Red Army in September 1941. Trained as a fighter pilot in the Yak-1, she was assigned to the 586th Fighter Regiment. From April to September 1942, she was engaged in the defense of Saratov. She was next assigned to the 437th Air Regiment near Stalingrad. In January 1943, she was transferred to the 73rd Guards Fighter Aviation Regiment. It was there that she had her greatest successes. On 23 February 1943, Budanova was awarded the Order of the Red Star.

Lieutenant Budanova flew 266 combat sorties, and is credited with 6 enemy aircraft destroyed, and another 5 shared with other pilots.

In 1988, Budanova’s remains were exhumed and reburied. On 1 October 1993, she was named Hero of the Russian Federation.

(Left to right) Lydia Vladimirovna Litvyak, Katya Budanova and Mariya Kuznetsova with a Yak-1 fighter. (RIA Novosti)

© 2019, Bryan R. Swopes


2 July 1990

Hero_of_the_Russian_Federation_obverse2 July 1990: At 10:20 p.m., Pacific Daylight Time, Anatoly Demyanovich Grishchenko, Honored Test Pilot of the Soviet Union, and test pilot at the M.M. Gromov Flight Research Institute, Zhukovsky, Russia, died at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, Seattle, Washington, United States of America.

For four days in April 1986, Anatoly Grischenko and Mil Design Bureau Chief Test Pilot Gurgen Karapetyan flew a Mil Mi-26 helicopter dropping loads of sand and wet cement on the wreckage of Reactor Number 4 at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant near Pripyat, Ukraine, which had been destroyed by an explosion. A mixture of sand, lead, clay and boron was dropped directly on the exposed reactor core. Carrying 15 ton loads suspended from an 200 meter (656 feet) cable, they made repeated trips while flying through the radioactive gases released from the plant. (Radiation measurements taken at 200 meters above the reactor exceeded 500 roentgens per hour.)

A Mil Mi-26 flies over Chernobyl complex, April 1986.

Grischenko suffered from radiation poisoning and later, leukemia. Four years later, Grischenko, along with his wife Galina, were brought to the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, in Seattle, Washington, for medical treatment, on 11 April 1990. He underwent chemotherapy and radiation treatments to destroy his own bone marrow. A 42-year-old woman from France had donated her marrow, which was flown directly to Seattle by British Airways.

Grischenko received the marrow transplant during a 7-hour procedure on 27 April—4 years and 1 day after his first flight over Chernobyl— but shortly thereafter, he contracted a lung infection.

On 12 June 1990, exploratory surgery was performed to find the cause of the infection. His condition worsened and he was placed on a respirator, but he died on the evening of 2 July 1990.

On the Fourth of July, Independence Day, the most important holiday in America, national flags in the city of Seattle were lowered to half-mast to honor the memory of the heroic, self-sacrificing test pilot from Zhukovsky.

His remains were returned to Russia and buried at the Bykovskoe Memorial Cemetery, Zhukovsky, Russia.

Following his death, the Flight Safety Foundation honored Grishchenko with the FSF Heroism Award, symbolized by the Graviner Sword.¹

On 27 February 1995, Anatoly Demyanovich Grishchenko was posthumously awarded the Gold Star of Hero of the Russian Federation by President Boris Yeltsin.

Award of Hero of the Russian Federation.
Award of Hero of the Russian Federation.
Анатолий Демьянович Грищенко (Anatoly Demyanovich Grishchenko) Memorial at Bykovskoe Memorial Cemetery, Zhukvsky, Russia.

Анатолий Демьянович Грищенко (Anatoly Demyanovich Grishchenko) was born in Leningrad, Russian Soviet Federative Socialist Republic, 24 August 1937. His father was there attending the S.M. Kirov Military Medical Academy. On completion of his course of studies, the family returned to the Ukraine, where they were caught up in the Nazi invasion. He grew up in Lutsk, Lyubomi and Kovel, towns in Volyn Oblast, Ukraine.

Grishchenko began flying at the Central and Egoryevsky flying clubs in 1955. In 1959, he graduated from the Moscow Aviation Institute. From 1959 to 1965, he was an engineer at the M.M. Gromov Flight Research Institute. He graduated from the Fedotov Test Pilot School in 1966. Grishchenko served as a test pilot at Gromov until 1987, and as an instructor at Fedotov.

Anatoly Grishchenko married Galina Melekhina. They would have two sons.

Mil Mi-26 dropping sand mixture at Chernobyl, 1987.

The OKB Mil Design Bureau’s Mi-26 is the world’s largest helicopter. It is a twin-engine, single main rotor/tail rotor helicopter with fixed tricycle landing gear. It is normally operated by two pilots, a navigator, flight engineer and flight technician, and can carry as many as 90 passengers.

The Mi-26 has an overall length with rotors turning of 40.025 meters (131 feet, 3.8 inches) and height of 8.145 meters (26 feet, 8.7 inches). The main rotor has a diameter of 32.00 meters (104 feet, 11.8 inches). The helicopter has an empty weight of 28,200 kiograms (62,170 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight of 56,000 kilograms (123,459 pounds).

The eight-blade fully-articulated main rotor system turns clockwise at 132 r.p.m. (the advancing blade is on the left). A five-blade tail rotor is mounted on the right side of a pylon in a pusher configuration. The tail rotor turns clockwise as seen from the helicopter’s left side (the advancing blade is below the axis of rotation).

Power is supplied by two Lotarev D-136 turboshaft engines producing 8,500 kW (11,399 shaft horsepower), each.

The cruise speed of the Mi-26 is 255 kilometers per hour (158 miles per hour) and maximum  speed is 295 kilometers per hour (183 miles per hour). The hover ceiling, out of ground effect (HOGE), is 1,800 meters (5,905 feet), and the service ceiling is 4,600 meters (15,092 feet), though on 2 February 1982, test pilot Gurgen Karapetyan, who flew with Grishchenko at Chernobyl, flew an Mi-26 to 6,400 meters (20,997 feet) carrying a 10,000 kilogram (22,046 pound) payload.² The maximum payload is 20,000 kilograms (44,092 pounds). The helicopter’s range, carrying an 18,000 kilogram (39,683 pounds) payload is 670 kilometers (416 miles).

The Mi-26 first flew in 1977. Production began in 1980. The helicopter remains in service with both military and civil operators.

Mil Mi-26 RF-95572, 04 yellow, photographed in June 2013. (Alex Beltyukov via Wikipedia)
Mil Mi-26 RF-95572, 04 Yellow, photographed in June 2013. (Alex Beltyukov via Wikipedia)

Embed from Getty Images

¹ The Graviner Sword, produced by Wilkinson Sword Ltd., is a 4.2-foot (1.3-meter) Scottish highland clan broadsword, modeled after a 15th-century two-handed battle sword.

² FAI Record File Number 9902

© 2021, Bryan R. Swopes