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Jump to nowhere

When Comrade Minov, who had returned from the United States, convinced Soviet pilots that it was safe to jump with a parachute, nobody believed. Only pilot Yakov Moszkowski decided to test the technology on himself. It was he who created the first parachute schools in the USSR.
In the 1930s, parachuting began to develop massively in the USSR. In 1934, 14 first brave men received the title of master of parachuting. Following the organizer of parachutism in the USSR, Leonid Minov, was his disciple Yakov Moshkovsky. “The first who marked the beginning of the massive development of parachuting” – with this formulation Moshkovsky was credited to professional parachutists.

Yakov Moshkovsky was born in 1905 in the Belarusian Pinsk to the family of a teacher of the Jewish elementary school, Dovid-Ber Iosifovich Moshkovsky. The love of knowledge was one of the most rewarded in the family — the two brothers Jacob, for example, became well-known doctors, members of the Academy of Medical Sciences of the USSR and Russia. In 1919 – during the Polish intervention – Dovid-Bera was shot on a false charge. Jacob then moved across the front line and moved to his older brother Shabsai in Moscow.

After graduating from the boarding school, he entered the Egoryevsk military school of pilots, and then the Borisoglebsk military school. After receiving an appointment in the aviation unit, located in Gatchina. By 1930, Jacob was a senior pilot of the 53rd Squadron of the 11th Aviation Group of the Moscow Military District, based in Voronezh. This squadron was chosen to demonstrate the potential of parachutes and deploy them everywhere in all aviation units.

As you know, the idea of ​​creating a parachute came even Leonardo da Vinci – since then people have decided dozens of times to jump with prototypes of parachutes from precipices, towers, and later – balloons. On March 1, 1912, the world’s first parachute jump from an airplane was made. In the USSR, this happened in 1927, but by chance – a parachute was used in the ejection of a pilot from an airplane. However, shortly thereafter, the commander of the Red Army Air Force, Leonid Minov, raised the topic of using parachutes in aviation. In 1929, Minova was even sent to the USA to study a parachute case at the Irwin plant in Buffalo. There he made two exploratory jumps, after which he jumped for the third time already at the California parachutist competitions. He took the honorable third place, landing just 35 meters from the center of the circle, and was officially recognized as a professional skydiver. Returning to the Union, Minov began to advocate for the widespread introduction of parachutes in Soviet aviation. Here are just volunteers who would agree to jump with a parachute, was not long. As a result, it was decided to “appoint” a squadron for the first training parachute jumps “from above”.

In Voronezh, Yakov Moshkovsky volunteered to become Minov’s assistant, although he himself at that time had only theoretical ideas about jumping. The history of the acquaintance of Moshkovsky and Minov was told in his story “From wing to wing” by test pilot Igor Shelest:

“Yakov Moshkovsky was the duty officer at the airborne brigade when Minov first flew to their unit after returning from America, where he studied the parachute case. From the silver R-5 Minov walked upstairs, not paying attention to the young pilot. Jacob hurried, glancing at the hawk guest profile, at the purple diamond in the blue buttonhole. Moszkowski could not remain silent for a long time.

– And I know why you flew to us! – he said.
Minov turned, surprised by the form of appeal. With curiosity, he glanced at the guy with the revolver, “cubes” in his buttonholes and a bandage on his sleeve. Eyes, some nimble, enthusiastic and crafty, about something already asked.

– Why? – Minov asked.
– You will demonstrate parachute jumps here!
– Here is how! – smiled pretty Minov.

Later Moshkovsky found a case to meet again and stated to the point of view:

– Comrade commander, if you start to pick up those who want to jump, so, mind you, I’m the first!

When Minov, in an interview with the brigade commander, asked to be attached to an efficient pilot for transportation and assistance, he thought: “Who would it be?”

– Tell me, commander, and this person on duty that met me. How is it? ..
– Moshkovsky? You know, this is a thought. He does not give me two weeks of passage with your jumps. I found out somehow that you would fly in and began pestering: he wanted to jump first! ”

Since July 26, 1930, having received a brief briefing, Moszkowski made his first jump before the air crew’s flight crew — he stepped from the wing of the plane after Minov. It was the first training jump in the USSR, after which July 26 became the date of the unofficial Day of parachutists – first in the USSR, and then in Russia.

Following Moshkovsky – having made sure that he was safe and sound after landing – several dozen more people signed up as volunteers. Each of them completed about 60 training jumps in three days. After a report on successful jumps to the commander of the Air Force, he offered to demonstrate the possibility of throwing “a group of armed paratroopers of 10-15 people for sabotage actions on the territory of the enemy”.

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