Leonid Grigorievich Minov became not only a pilot, but also a pioneer of parachutism in the Soviet Union. He survived the First World War and the Civil War, visited France and the United States, became the first Soviet person to jump with a parachute, received many awards, but this was not enough. Not enough to protect yourself from the ice rink of repression. But Leonid Grigorievich did not break down and remained faithful to his homeland.
In our opinion, he is quite qualified to teach …
Leonid Grigorievich was born on April 23rd, 1898 in the city of Dvinsk (now - Daugavpils, Latvia). Here he graduated from a commercial school. When he was eighteen years old, Minov volunteered for the fields of the First World War. He was assigned to reconnaissance. In September 1917 he became a member of the RSDLP (b). The Civil War could not pass him by either. Already in those years, Leonid Grigorievich dreamed of the sky. Therefore, after graduating from the Moscow school of pilot-observers in May 1920, he went to the Polish front. A year later, Minov graduated from military pilot schools, first in Zaraisk, and then in Moscow.
When the Civil War died down, Minov took over as an instructor. And after some time, he headed the flight department of the first Moscow Higher School of Military Pilots. Leonid Grigorievich was engaged not only in improving his own skills and training other pilots, but also studied various methods of blind flight. Training cabins for pilots and a special chair were created especially for the development of this direction.
A man of such a bright talent and perceptive mind was highly valued by his immediate superiors. They trusted him and, more importantly, believed in him. Therefore, in 1925, Leonid Grigorievich was sent to France as an aviation attaché at the trade mission of the Soviet Union. Thanks to his sociability, knowledge of foreign languages and professionalism, Minov managed to win the favor of high-ranking French military and officials. As a result, he was able to negotiate the purchase of four thousand Ron aircraft engines. Of course, they were morally outdated, since they were released during the First World War, but the price tag made up for everything. Leonid Grigorievich bought workable power units at the cost of scrap. The Rones came in handy, since they went on to develop Soviet aviation, which at that time was noticeably lagging behind European ones.
In 1927, Minov returned to his homeland. Leonid Grigorievich hoped that after a long voyage, he would now be able to go headlong into his favorite business - flying. But not even a couple of years have passed since the head of the Air Force of the Red Army, Pyotr Ionovich Baranov, entrusted Minov with a new responsible task. This time, Leonid Grigorievich had to go even further - across the Atlantic Ocean. The pilot was required to collect information on the methodology for teaching US pilots to parachute jumping. Also, he had to visit the Irving company, which was located in Buffalo. At that time, Irving was the world's leading company in the production of parachutes and various aviation equipment. The USSR was not just so interested in overseas developments. The fact is that parachuting in the country was in its infancy. Minov understood all this perfectly, so he took his overseas business trip with the utmost seriousness.
For several days Leonid Grigorievich literally lived in the factory workshops of Irving, trying not to miss a single, even the smallest, details of the production of parachutes. Then he was taken to a military airbase. Here Minov met the testers and, as they say, arranged for them to be interrogated with passion. Fortunately, knowledge of the English language solved many problems and managed to do without an interpreter. By the way, the American side was pleasantly surprised by the Soviet guest. Nobody expected that he would be so educated and erudite. And when Minov managed to make a good impression on the representatives of the management of the enterprise, he began important negotiations. As a result, he managed, on favorable terms for both parties, to agree on the terms of the purchase of a batch of parachutes. In addition, Leonid Grigorievich obtained a patent for their production in the Soviet Union.
After observing the parachute tests from the side, Leonid Grigorievich asked permission to try to cope with the Irving on his own. The representatives of the enterprise agreed. And soon Minov made his first parachute jump from a height of five hundred meters. He had no problems with "taming the beast". The Americans were so impressed that they decided to joke by inviting a citizen of the Soviet Union to take part in a competition that took place in California. Minov appreciated the joke and, of course, immediately agreed.
In the conditions of the competition, it was said that it was necessary to make a jump from a height of four hundred meters. And you need to land in a circle with diameters of thirty-five meters. Of course, the Americans hardly thought that Minov would be able to fulfill this standard. However, Leonid Grigorievich not only performed with dignity among professionals, he took third place. At the same time, Leonid Grigorievich made a parachute jump for the second time only. The American press was delighted.
When the time of the business trip came to an end (Minov managed to make another jump), he received a certificate that said: “Citizen of the USSR L. G. Minov completed a training course on the inspection, care, maintenance and use of parachutes manufactured by the Irvinga parachute company … In our opinion, he is quite qualified to teach the use of Irving parachutes, as well as for their inspection, care and maintenance."
Returning home, Leonid Grigorievich made a report on a business trip to the United States at the Air Force headquarters. And his work was approved by his superiors. Curiously, after Minov, brigadier engineer Mikhail Savitsky was also sent overseas. In the United States, he spent a month, during which he studied the technology of the production of parachutes. And when he returned, Mikhail Alekseevich headed the first parachute production plant in the USSR.
The work went on at an accelerated pace. And by the end of 1931, about five thousand parachutes had been released. Moreover, one batch of seventy pieces was made according to the design of Savitsky himself. These parachutes were named PD-1.
According to the memoirs of contemporaries, the country's leadership literally caught fire with the idea of parachuting. Viktor Suvorov in his book "Icebreaker" has lines that well illustrate the situation in the country: “Parachute psychosis raged in the Soviet Union at the same time as a terrible famine. In the country, children are swollen with hunger, and Comrade Stalin sells bread abroad to buy parachute technology, to build giant silk factories and parachute factories, to cover the country with a network of airfields and aero clubs, to raise the skeleton of a parachute tower in every city park to prepare thousands instructors to build parachute dryers and storage facilities to train a million well-fed parachutists, the weapons, equipment and parachutes they need."
And Leonid Grigorievich was just doing his job. After an overseas business trip, he received a position that had not previously been in the USSR - he became the first instructor in parachute training. He had to carry out a gigantic work on the introduction of parachutes into aviation.
Soon the first training camp took place. They were conducted at the base of the 11th Aviation Brigade in Voronezh. Minov was to acquaint the pilots with parachutes, as well as to demonstrate their capabilities. Before the flight, the duty officer, Yakov Davidovich Moshkovsky, asked Leonid Grigorievich to allow him to make the jump. Minov agreed and appointed his friend Moshkovsky as his assistant.
The demonstration parachute jumps went off with a bang. After that, several dozen more aviators followed the example of Minov and Moshkovsky.
Then Leonid Grigorievich allowed Pyotr Ionovich Baranov to report back. And he asked: “Tell me, is it possible to prepare, say, ten or fifteen people for a group jump in two or three days? It would be very good if it were possible during the Voronezh exercise to demonstrate the drop of a group of armed paratroopers for sabotage actions on the territory of the "enemy".
Minov did not disappoint the Air Force commander. On August 2, 1930, two groups of paratroopers, six in each, made jumps. The first group was led by Leonid Grigorievich, the second - by Yakov Moshkovsky. And it was this day that became the birthday of the Red Army Airborne Troops.
On August 10, 1934, the Central Council of the Osoaviakhim of the Soviet Union adopted a resolution on conferring the honorary title "Master of Parachuting of the USSR". The first to receive the certificate, of course, was Leonid Grigorievich, the second - Moshkovsky.
Under the roller of repression
When the period of purges began, Osoaviakhim did not stand aside either. On May 22, 1937, the chairman of the Central Council, Robert Petrovich Eideman, was arrested. During interrogations, “physical measures” were applied to him. And he could not resist, admitting that he was participating in a military-fascist conspiracy and in the Latvian underground organization. But these confessions were not enough. They demanded "accomplices" from him. And, in the end, Eydman slandered two dozen people, thirteen of whom were employees of Osoaviakhim. All of them were immediately arrested.
On June 11, 1937, Eydman was sentenced to death by the Special Judicial Presence of the USSR Supreme Court. And the very next day he was shot along with Tukhachevsky, Yakir and other military men.
Then the deputy Eideman Voskanov, the head of the Aviation Directorate Tretyakov, the head of the Central Aero Club Deutsch and others fell under the rink. Soon it was Minov's turn. He was also accused of a military conspiracy. But they were in no hurry with his arrest, having decided to wait a bit. Most likely, Yakov Moshkovsky would also have been sentenced to death, since there were "plans" for him too. But tragedy struck. In 1939, Yakov Davidovich passed a medical commission. The doctors' verdict was sad for Moshkovsky: he was allowed to make a maximum of a dozen jumps. Affected by the numerous injuries he received during the service.
Having successfully overcome the mark of five hundred jumps, Moshkovsky made another one. But the next one became fatal for him. The weather was too windy that day. But this did not stop Yakov Davidovich. He made his five hundred and second jump and was already preparing to descend into the water of the Khimki reservoir, when a powerful gust of wind blew him to the side. And Moshkovsky hit the side of the truck.
The resulting trauma to the skull was incompatible with life.
In the fall of 1941, the skating rink of the repression still reached Minov. Like everyone else, he was accused of conspiracy, but was not sentenced to death. He was given seven years in the camps and the same amount - in exile. This is what Mikhail Grigorovich, with whom Minov was serving his sentence, recalled: “In the early 1940s, there were Sevzheldorlag camps in Son, the prisoners were building the North Pechora railway. The column to which we were transferred was engaged in the construction of a railway bridge over the Synya River. Between the camp and the bridge there was an earthen quarry, from which we carried in wheelbarrows and carried the soil on a stretcher to the approach embankments to the bridge under construction. The soil was clayey, very frozen, and it was worked very hard by hand. We did not fulfill the norms and received 400-500 grams of bread. This period was very difficult, probably the most difficult during our time with L. G. stay in the North”.
Six years later, Leonid Grigorievich was deprived of all awards. But, despite all the difficulties that fell to the lot of Minov, he managed to return to freedom when the term of imprisonment expired. And at the end of March 1957, Leonid Grigorievich was reinstated in the rights to awards.
Minov continued to do what he loved. And for many years he headed the Aviation Sports Federation of the capital. And he died in January 1978.