The Flying Machines of Yuri Gagarin

Yuri was above all, an enthusiastic flyer and planes of all types played a big part in his life. Each of them has its own story, and together they tell us about how quickly the world was changing in Yuri’s lifetime. This is the first in a series of posts reflecting the flying machines Yuri familiarised himself with throughout his life…

Model aircraft

Model planes were a big part of Yuri’s childhood. Building and flying your own models is a great way to understand how planes fly, and a good training for a would-be pilot.

Technical hobbies like aeromodelling were looked on favourably in the Soviet Union because they were seen as practical education. Model flying in international competitions was also supported by the state because of the propaganda value, (as with Olympic sports), showing that Communism could compete on the world stage.

In the novel, I have represented Yuri’s hobby by an actual Russian design for a rubber-band powered model plane called ‘Malisch’. The plans were published in the Russian magazine ‘Wings of the Homeland’ (Krila Rodiny), in 1961, but is still typical of the kind of model Yuri might have built as a kid.

Rubber band powered model called 'Malisch'

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