Making a graphic novel 5: The boss of bosses

The story of Korolev’s early interest in aeronautical engineering and rockets, and how it eventually led to his recall from the Kolyma Gulag is a complex one that we could only give glimpses of. Nevertheless, I hope the message is clear that here was a young engineer, living a life of thrilling innovation in the early years of the 20th century.

tukhachevsky kolymer korolev gulagOne of his first achievements was to design, build and fly with friends, a glider. The glider’s name ‘Koktebel’ intrigued me, so naturally, I looked it up. Suddenly, my computer screen was full of links to pictures of flabby naked people on beaches. Was ‘Koktebel’ a euphemism for something really weird?

Korolev glider

Shielding my eyes and reading the captions soon resolved the mystery. Koktebel is a famous Black Sea resort. In the 1920’s it was a favourite spot for testing gliders, owing to the steady onshore breezes that blow up the faces of the hills overlooking the sea. Many experimental gliders like Korolev’s were developed there, and it became a centre for the sport, so much so that the Soviets officially re-named it ‘Planerskoye’ – ‘Gliderville’. Today however, it is noted, among other attractions,  for having the one of the world’s biggest naturist beaches. Far above the beach though, gliders still hang in the wind.

The Black Sea resort Koktebell

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