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the Wright brothers may have been the first to make a sustained,
controlled flight, they were just two among hundreds of brave men and
women who helped to give the world its wings during the earliest days of
aviation. Below are brief biographies of some of the most important
figures and, where available, resources and links where you can find more
information. In some cases, contributors have supplied expanded
biographies. Those are listed at the right and linked below.
Sergei I. Utochkin was a champion bicyclist, balloonist,
motorist, boxer, skater, swimmer, and swordsmen from the Ukraine. He
made his first flight on 15 March 1910 from his hometown of Odessa.
Other eastern European pilots had learned to fly in France and
Germany, but he was apparently the first to learn to fly in eastern
Europe. He became an immensely popular aviator, making exhibition
flights all over the Ukraine and Russia in his Farman biplane. His
legend was partly built on his eccentricities – he insisted on
wearing a business suit and bowler when flying – and partly on his
interest in young people. He took many aspiring aviators under his
wing, taught them to fly, even gave one an airplane. He earned much
the same fame and provided the same inspiration that Yuri Gagarin,
Russia's first cosmonaut, would enjoy many years later.
Utochkin flies his Farman in St. Petersburg in 1910.
This statue of Utochkin stands in Odessa, Ukraine, his home town.