Tag Archives: Honored Test Pilot of the Soviet Union

16 September 1975

Mikoyan Design Bureau E155MP 83/1 (Mikoyan)
Mikoyan Design Bureau E-155MP 83/1 (OKB Mikoyan)
Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov (1932–1982)
Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov

16 September 1975: Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov, Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau’s chief test pilot, took the Product 83 prototype, E-155MP 83/1, for its first flight.

Project 83 was a two-seat, twin-engine, Mach 2.8+ interceptor, designed as a successor to the Mikoyan-Gurevich MiG 25 “Foxbat” and would be designated the MiG 31. The Soviet Ministry of Defense assigned odd numbered designators to fighter-type aircraft, while NATO, the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, gave them identifying names beginning with the letter F. NATO calls the MiG 31 “Foxhound.”

The E-155MP is 22.69 meters (77 feet, 5 inches) long with a wingspan of 13.46 meters (44 feet, 2 inches) and overall height of 5.15 meters (16 feet, 11 inches). Its empty weight is 20,800 kilograms (45,856 pounds), normal takeoff weight 40,600 kilograms (89,508 pounds) and maximum takeoff weight of 46,000 kilograms (101,413 pounds).

Mikoyan Design Bureau Ye-155MP, 83/1, first prototype of the MiG-31 Fox Hound. (Mikoyan)
Mikoyan Design Bureau E-155MP, 83/1, first prototype of the MiG-31 Foxhound. (Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau)

The aircraft is powered by two low-bypass-ratio Soloviev Design Bureau D-30 F6 turbofan engines, producing 91.00 kN (20,458 pounds of thrust), each, and 152.00 kN (34,171 pounds thrust), each, with afterburners.

The E-155MP had a maximum speed of Mach 2.82 (2,995 kilometers per hour/1,861 miles per hour) at 17,500 meters (57,415 feet) and 1500 (932 miles per hour) at low altitude. The prototype’s service ceiling was 20,000 meters (65,617 feet), and it had a range of 2,150 kilometers (1,336 miles).

The aircraft is unsuitable for air combat manuevering. The airframe is limited to a load factor of 5 Gs.

Mikoyan Design Bureau E155MP 83/1 (Mikoyan)
Mikoyan Design Bureau E155MP 83/1 (OKB Mikoyan)

The production MiG 31 is armed with one Gryazev-Shipunov GSh-6 23 23mm six-barrel rotary cannon with 260 rounds of ammunition. Four Vympel R-33 long-range air-to-air missiles are carried in fuselage recesses, and various combinations of short and medium range missiles can be carried on pylons under the wings.

The MiG 31 was in production from 1979 until 1994. Beginning in 2010, a modernization program to bring the up to the MiG 31BM configuration. It is believed that approximately 400 MiG 31 interceptors are in service.

A Russian Air Force MiG-31. (Dmitriy Pichugin)
A Russian Air Force MiG 31. (Dmitriy Pichugin via Wikipedia)

Alexander Vasilievich Fedotov born 23 June 1932 at Stalingrad, Russia (renamed Volgograd in 1961). He graduated from the Air Force Special School at Stalingrad,  and in 1950, entered the Soviet Army. Fedotov attended the Armavir Military Aviation School of Pilots at Amravir, Krasnodar Krai, Russia, graduating in 1952, and then became a flight instructor. In 1958 he attended the Ministry of Indutrial Aviation Test Pilot School at Zhukovsky. He was a test pilot for the Mikoyan Experimental Design Bureau from 1958 to 1984. In 1983, Alexander Fedotov was promoted to the rank of Major General in the Soviet Air Force.

On 22 July 1966, Fedotov was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union. He was named an Honored Test Pilot of the Soviet Union, 21 February 1969. He was qualified as a Military Pilot 1st Class. Fedotov was twice awarded the Order of Lenin, and also held the Order of the Red Banner and the Order of the Red Banner of Labor.

During his career as a test pilot, Major General Fedotov had been forced to eject from an airplane three times. He had also set 15 Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records for speed, altitude and time to altitude. One of these, FAI Record File Number 2825, in which he flew a Mikoyan E-266M to 37,650 meters (123,534 feet), 31 August 1977, remains the current record. The FAI has also honored him three times with The De la Vaulx Medal (1961, 1973 and 1977), and in 1976 awarded him the FAI’s Gold Air Medal.

Major General Alexander Vasilyevich Fedotov and his navigator, Valerie Sergeyvich Zaytevym, were killed when the second MiG 31 prototype, number 83/2, crashed during a test flight. Neither airman was able to eject.

Major General Alexander Vasilyevich Federov, Hero of the Soviet Union.
Major General Alexander Vasilyevich Federov, Hero of the Soviet Union

© 2017, Bryan R. Swopes

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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, was 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 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.

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.¹ 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 FAI Record File Number 9902

© 2018, Bryan R. Swopes

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