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Vladimir Ilyushin
Владимир Сергеевич Ильюшин
File:Major-General Vladimir Ilyushin.jpg
Major-General Vladimir Sergeyevich Ilyushin, VVS
Born (1927-03-31)March 31, 1927
Died March 1, 2010(2010-03-01) (aged 82)
Place of birth Moscow, Soviet Union
Place of death Russia
Rank Major-General

Hero of the Soviet Union Order of Lenin

Major General Vladimir Sergeyevich Ilyushin (Russian: Владимир Серге́евич Ильюшин) (March 31, 1927, Moscow  – March 1, 2010) was a Soviet general and noted test pilot, and the son of aerospace engineer Sergei Ilyushin.[1] He spent most of his career as a test pilot for the Sukhoi OKB. In 1961, Ilyushin was the subject of spurious rumors that he, rather than Yuri Gagarin, was the first cosmonaut in space; according to the conspiracy theory, his mission had gone badly, and the Soviet Union had covered it up.[2] Ilyushin was also notable as a rugby union administrator who was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame in 2013.[3]

Career as test pilot

Ilyushin had a prominent career as a test pilot and lieutenant general in the Soviet Air Force. He piloted the maiden flights of the Sukhoi's Su-11 (1958), Т-5 (1958), Su-15 (1962), Su-17 (1966), Su-24 (1967), Т-4 (1972), Su-25 (1975) and the famous Su-27 (1977).

Rugby union

Ilyushin was first exposed to rugby while studying at the Moscow Aviation Institute in the 1940s; according to the International Rugby Board (IRB), "His love of the sport was immediate and stayed with him for the rest of his life." He went on to a career as a rugby administrator that made him, according to IRB president Bernard Lapasset, "a true pioneer of Rugby in Russia". On March 31, 1967 (his 40th birthday), he founded the Soviet Rugby Federation, and was named its first president. By 1975, he had fully integrated the Soviet Union into the European international structure, and the following year played a significant role in the creation of a Soviet club championship. Ilyushin's career as an administrator continued into the post-communist era. He died two days after Russia secured its place in the 2011 Rugby World Cup, the country's first appearance ever in that competition. In February 2013, Ilyushin was inducted into the IRB Hall of Fame during the pool allocation draw for the 2013 Rugby World Cup Sevens in Moscow.[3]

Alleged Lost cosmonaut

Two days before Gagarin's launch on April 12, 1961, Dennis Ogden wrote in the Western Communist newspaper the Daily Worker that the Soviet Union's announcement that Ilyushin had been involved in a serious car crash was really a cover story for an April 7, 1961 orbital spaceflight gone wrong.[2] A similar story was told by French broadcaster Eduard Bobrovsky, but his version had the launch occurring in March, resulting in Ilyushin slipping into a coma.[2] NORAD tracking stations, however, had no record of any such launch.[2] Later that year, U.S. News & World Report transmitted the rumor by claiming that Gagarin had never flown and was merely a stand-in for the sickened Ilyushin.[citation needed] The 1999 film The Cosmonaut Cover-Up takes the position that Ilyushin was the first man in space and discusses the alleged cover-up in detail.[4] The 2009 film Fallen Idol: The Yuri Gagarin Conspiracy also takes the same position and further goes to talk about the US efforts to continue the lie, even citing national security to not release information under the Freedom of Information Act. The data sought was the Tern Islanddisambiguation needed CIA tracking station that supposedly covered and recorded Iluyshin's failed mission.

According to Mark Wade, editor of the space history web site Encyclopedia Astronautica, "The entire early history of the Soviet manned space program has been declassified and we have piles of memoirs of cosmonauts, engineers, etc., who participated. We know who was in the original cosmonaut team, who never flew, was dismissed, or was killed in ground tests. Ilyushin is not one of them."[5]

Honours and awards


 This article incorporates public domain material from websites or documents of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration.

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