A Soviet Hero

SAM_0965I have always admired Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space.  Since I’ve been in Russia, I have purchased a coffee mug with his picture on it, and a metal bust of him designed to sit on a shelf and collect dust.  Anyway, he was a Soviet cosmonaut who orbited the earth in 1961, and had a very interesting story.  He stood only 5’2″ but was larger than life, the son of workers on a Soviet collective farm.  In the months following his flight, Gagarin toured many countries and was the main attraction of many parades, but he was very uncomfortable with celebrity, according to some accounts.  Once he completed his historic flight, the Soviets were concerned with losing a national hero in an accident, so he was barred from further cosmonaut missions.  He went back to flying fighters.  On a routine training flight in 1968, Gagarin’s plane mysteriously crashed.  Many conspiracy theories emerged, but only a few years ago it became known that another plane flew too close to his, causing it to spin out of control and crash.  He was 34 years old.  In front of the aeronautical university in Ufa is this monument to the man.

Posted in Dave/Ann Blog.