They knew how to do everything themselves…
Vladimir Lositsky, historian of Russian aviation and cosmonautics, director of the Cosmonaut Serebrov Foundation
Progress Rocket and Space Center in Samara. May 2021
Rockets were not the only reason Korolev lost interest in aircraft. The first flight of the SK-4 took place in Koktebel on October 28, 1930, and was made by pilot Vasily Stepanchonok. Korolev, who designed the airplane, dreamed of flying it himself but, shortly before the flight test, fell ill with typhoid fever and suffered complications. He became deaf in one ear and, thus, would not have been allowed to fly as a pilot any more.
Typhoid would haunt Korolev yet again a few years later when his teacher, friend and colleague in the Group for the Study of Reactive Motion, engineer Friedrich Zander, one of the first rocket-building enthusiasts in Russia, would die of the disease.
Based on recollections of Korolev’s mother Maria Balanina, Korolev’s student companion Pyotr Flyorov, and aircraft designer Oleg Antonov
AS NARRATED BY ROMANOV:
Later on, Romanov would change his text several times, and one of the versions totally missed the meeting, as if there had been no real-life encounter at all.
In 1957, the year of Tsiolkovsky’s centenary, Korolev, along with his wife and associates, visited the Tsiolkovsky house-museum in Kaluga — that is, the very house where the meeting had supposedly taken place 30 years earlier — but did not say a word about it.
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