The Greatest Aviator the West Has Never Heard Of, Marina Lavrentievna Popovich, Has Died.

Dec 04 2017 - 4 Comments
By Tom Demerly

Popovich, 86 Years Old, Held Over 100 Aviation Records in 40 Different Aircraft.

Russian aviator, record holder, engineer and author Marina Lavrentievna Popovich has died in Russia on Nov. 30, 2017. She was 86 years old.

Popovich was an icon of Russian aviation history and one of many female pilots revered in the former Soviet Union and now Russia. According to tributes to her career in Russian media, former Colonel Popovich set over 100 total aviation world records, including a remarkable 10 world aviation records in the Russian Antonov AN-22 (NATO reporting name “Cock”) alone. The An-22 is the world’s largest turboprop aircraft.

Popovich was also a noted author in Russia and wrote nine books and two film scripts. She was a prominent member of Russia’s Writer’s Union.

An interesting footnote to Popovich’s career was significant involvement in UFO research. During her career, Popovich cited the existence of a “Russian Area 51” where the former KGB and former Soviet Air Force had kept fragments of crashed UFOs. In an expose’ similar to the U.S. “Project Blue Book”, Popovich claimed the Soviet Union had records of “over 3000” military and civilian UFO sightings.

Named Marina Vasilieva by marriage, she became a Soviet Air Force pilot and graduated from military test pilot school in 1964. She was awarded the coveted “Hero of Socialist Labor” during the Soviet era and the “Order of Courage” in 2007, an award presented to her by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The former Soviet Union was the first country to allow female pilots to fly in combat. Russia has a rich history of outstanding female aviators, many of whom are combat veterans from The Great Patriotic War, WWII. There were three all-female combat flying units during WWII alone, including one known as the “Night Witches” who effectively employed antiquated aircraft against the German invasion of Russia. Russian female pilots are said to have flown over 30,000 combat missions in The Great Patriotic War.

Top image credit:

  • Aero

    My respects!

  • Tomas Rodriguez

    She was mostly admired as a professional test pilot.

    David, if I remember correctly, in WW2 five Soviet female fighter pilots became aces. The highest scorers, Lilia Litvyak (Litvak?)- 12 victories. (When pilots were “knights”, they counted “victories” and would have found the word “kills” repulsive, a word which we got from the combat flight simulator games community, although they did not create it) and Katia Budanova (11vics) both died in combat. Litvyak died on her 168th mission (third sortie of one day) aged 22. Her remains were found in 1979.

  • Aram Bagdasaryan

    I’ve met with Marina Popovich several times. She was absolute unique person, with by far above the normal positive energy. To all mentiones achievements at aricle above we should add 7-time world champion title in aerobatics, Doctor of technical Science degree and many more. Also she was the 1-st wife of Pavel Popovich, USSR astronaut №4. In loving memory.

  • Black Eagle

    True aviator legend. Rest In Peace.