2012 Inductee: Vladimir Ilyushin

(IRB.COM) Monday 25 February 2013
 2012 Inductee: Vladimir Ilyushin

IRB Hall of Fame – Induction No. 56 – Vladimir Sergeevich Ilyushin (1927-2010)

Personal details

– Born: 31 March 1927 in Moscow, Russia.
– Died: 2 March 2010 in Moscow. He is buried in the Khimki cemetery.
– Family: The second of two children of aircraft designer Sergey Vladimirovich Ilyushin (1894-1977) and Raisa Mikhailovna Jalkovskaya (1897-1972). His older sister Irina Vladimironovna Orekhovich, born in 1920, was also an aircraft designer like her father and brother. Their mother was also a well-known pilot during her youth and an engineer. Vladimir Ilyushin had two younger half brothers, both aviation engineers, Sergey (born in 1947) and Alexander (born in 1955). Vladimir was married twice. From his first marriage, which lasted only two years, he had a daughter, Larisa Skriabina-Koroleva. He remarried geologist Dr. Natela Margarita Djaparidze in 1953 and they had a daughter Marina Vladimirnovna Ilyushin, who is an educationalist.
– Education: He left school after eighth grade and joined the aircraft workshop at the Central Moscow Airport (PO2), while learning to fly under the guidance of legendary test-pilot VK Kokkianaki, one of the finest Soviet test pilots. A teenager, he was on duty on the roof as a guard during the early German air-raids on Moscow and was subsequently awarded his first medal 'For the Defence of Moscow' after the war. In 1943 he had his first solo flight under Kokkianaki's guidance. The following year he joined the Air Force and went on studying at the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) followed by the Air Force Engineering Academy “NE Jukovsky”. In 1947 he got his flying badge from the First Moscow Aero club and in 1949 went to the Balashov Military Aviation School in Saratov region, where he flew his first jet Yak-17.
– Hobbies: Car collector, his most treasured piece was a Chevrolet Bell Air 1966.

Professional career

In 1953 he passed his test-pilot exams and joined the Flight Research Institute of MM Gromov. He started testing military aircrafts during this time, the youngest of a brilliant generation of test pilots at FRI Gromov. He spent time in Kuibyshev and Novosibirsk testing the newly manufactured MiG-17 aircrafts. In 1957 he joined the Sukhoi Design Bureau (OKB Sukhoi) as senior test pilot, a position he retained until 1981. He worked closely with the Head Designer Pavel Osipovich Sukhoi and eventually became his deputy. He retired as Lieutenant-General of the Russian Air Force.

– 1957: 10 October – Made first flight of Su-9 production aircraft
– 1959: 14 July – Sets first world record – absolute altitude of 28,857 m aboard the T-431, a modified Su-9 fighter
– 1960: 8 June – He is seriously injured in a car crash. It is said that he was sent to Hangchow, China, for 35 days of special therapy
– 1961: 10 April – A couple of days before Yuri Gagarin's flight (the first man in space), a report by journalist Denis Ogden claimed that the Soviet Union had already launched a man in space on 7 April and that the mission had to be aborted and the cosmonaut had been severely injured. The following day another journalist Eduard Brobovsky named the injured cosmonaut as Vladimir Ilyushin. The fact that Ilyushin was involved in a car crash earlier and was treated in China added credibility to the story, which was never confirmed by Ilyushin. This account is refuted by a large number of scientists and researchers, although it also has its own supporters
– 1962: 30 May – Made first flight of Su-15
– 1965: June – Made first flight of T-6 prototype of the Su-24
– 1966: 2 August – Made first flight of S-22I, prototype of Su-17
– 1966: 22 August – Made first flight of T-4 tri-sonic bomber prototype
– 1966-1967: Appointed instructor at Chkalov Test Pilot School
– 1971: Named Deputy Chief Designer of Sukhoi and head test pilot
– 1973: Promoted to Lieutenant-General of the Soviet Air Force
– 1974: 17 January – Made his first flight of Su-24
– 1975: 22 February – The first flight of the T-8, prototype of the Su-25
– 1977: 29 May – He made the first flight of T-10, predecessor of the Su-27
– 1981: 20 April – Made the first flight of T-10S, prototype of the Su-27

Awards and records

– Hero of the Soviet Union (1960)
– Order of Lenin
– Order of the Red Banner
– Order of the Red Banner of Labour, (twice)
– Order of the Red Star
– Order of the Badge of Honour
– Jubilee Medal "Centenary of the birth of VI Lenin" (twice)
– Medal for Combat Service (1955)
– Medal "For the Defence of Moscow" (1945)
– Medal “De Lavaux “(International Aeronautics Federfation, 1963)
– Lenin Prize (1976)
– Honoured Test Pilot of the USSR (1966)
– Honoured Master of Sports (1961)
– Medal "For the Victory over Germany in the Great Patriotic War 1941–1945"
– Jubilee Medal "Twenty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
– Jubilee Medal "Thirty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
– Jubilee Medal "Forty Years of Victory in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
– Medal "For Valiant Labour in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945"
– Medal "Veteran of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
– Jubilee Medal "30 Years of the Soviet Army and Navy"
– Jubilee Medal "40 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
– Jubilee Medal "50 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
– Jubilee Medal "60 Years of the Armed Forces of the USSR"
– Medal "The 800th Anniversary of Moscow"
– Medal "For Impeccable Service" 1st and 2nd classes
– State Prize of the Russian Federation (1996)
– Order of Merit for the Fatherland, 3rd class on 29 July 1999 - for services to the state, a large contribution to the development, creation of modern aviation technology and years of diligent work
– Order Alexander Nevsky in November 2007 – for his entire sports career

Rugby career

– He became familiar with rugby during the 1940s, when he attended the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI) - the oldest Russian club, which became the centre of revival of rugby in the Soviet Union
– Through his aviation friends who played for MAI and the Military Air Academy Ilyushin became increasingly attracted to rugby
– He was instrumental in the formation of the Soviet Rugby Federation on 31 March 1967 (his 40th birthday) and was elected its first President
– In 1974 he instigated a government decree which targeted rugby development
– He strongly supported the launch of the nationwide rugby competition in 1976 – the 10-club USSR Championship which included in its first division two aviator clubs, the Gagarin Air Force Academy (VVA) and the Kiev Institute of Engineers of Civil Aviation (KIIGA). The third aviators’ club MAI ( Moscow Aviation Institute) was in the second National Division. In the other Divisions of USSR Championship later participated a team of aviators from Riga, Institute of Engineers of Civil Aviation, a team from Tbilisi State University of Civil Aviation (GUGA-MIMINO) and a team from Leningrad Special corps of aviation and air defence (SKA - PVO).
– He was instrumental in getting the Soviet Union team integrated in the playing structure of FIRA after their entry in 1975
– He stood between the game and the threats from the Soviet Olympic establishment, who viewed rugby as a waste of money and in 1981 a second government decree had the development of rugby as its theme
– In 1989 he attended the first test played by Georgia (vs Zimbabwe), though this must have attracted criticism from the Soviet establishment  
– He strongly advocated the entry of the Soviet Rugby Federation, into the IRFB in 1990
– He managed the Soviet team on their last overseas tour in Australia in 1990
– He led the Soviet Rugby Federation until February 22, 1991, just before the dissolution of the Soviet Union
– He became the Honorary President of the Russian Federation in 1992
–  In 1993 he was one of the founders of the veterans club Spartak Stars
– He passed away two days after Russia qualified to for a Rugby World Cup for the first time

Professional career highlights

– He flew 145 different types of aircraft and helicopters between 1943 and 1981
– On 14 July 1959 he set an absolute world altitude record of 28,852 metres with his prototype aircraft T-431, a version of SU-9 fighter.
– Awarded “Emeritus Master of Sports of USSR” in 1961, when he set a second world record with his Su-9 aircraft
– In 1962 he set a third world record of sustained altitude of 21,270 metres over 25 km aboard an T-431 aircraft
– Awarded “Emeritus Test Pilot of USSR “ in 1966

What he said

“Being a pilot is not just a profession; it is a warehouse of the soul and mind. A pilot who stops flying does not become a former pilot. He will always be a flyer. In our profession there is no past tense.”

“A human being will always feel fear in critical situations; it is after all a natural protective reaction. In order to be able to manage it you need courage, which is another protective reaction. However, it happens after the event. I recall that after the post-mortem of my ill-fated test flight with Su-11, when I was falling from about 20 kilometres and managed to stop the engine and then successfully land, my friend and colleague Arkady Bogorodsky asked me: 'Volodya, honestly, tell me, when did you really believe you will manage to touch down safely?' You know, I said, it happened only after I had landed.”

What they said

From the “Hero of the Soviet Union” citation: “… for the successful testing of the new aircraft and for displaying courage and heroism.”

Zaal Guiguindashvili, journalist: “The formation of the Rugby Federation by Ilyushin, was a watershed for Soviet rugby because it meant that it had access to state support, while becoming part of the formal ‘Soviet Sport Classification’ which secured for players and coaches access to the coveted state recognition of the type of “Master of Sport” and “Honorary Master of Sport”. Despite all that rugby, a non-Olympic sport, had never made it to ‘Spartakiad of Soviet Nations’ a multi-sport, all-encompassing Soviet sports jamboree involving the 15 republics, plus Moscow and Leningrad, held one year before the Olympics. Ilyushin was not the main decision maker in Soviet rugby, but he was instrumental in moving rugby forward through his fame and influence.”