27.03.

1968: Death of Yuri Gagarin

1968: Death of Yuri Gagarin
Photo Credit To Robert Couse-Baker, licensed for reuse under Creative Commons licence; https:[email protected]/5612257068/

Story Highlights

  • Historical event:
  • 27 March 1968
  • The investigation was conducted by the KGB, which concluded that the airbase personnel is to be blamed for the error, because they gave the pilots an outdated weather report and did not remove the extra fuel tanks from the aircraft. It remains an open question whether the KGB told the truth.

On this day in 1968 Soviet astronaut (“cosmonaut”) Yuri Gagarin was killed in an accident. He was famous for being the first man launched into space (12 April 1961). Gagarin reached the rank of colonel in the Soviet Army.

Only 157 centimeters tall, he was world-famous and undertook a tour of the world after his space flight (Germany, Italy, Canada, Brazil, Japan, Finland). He was greeted with great ceremony everywhere he went.

After that first flight, the Soviets never again sent Gagarin into space, considering him too valuable to lose. On this day he was on a routine flight in a MiG-15 UTI fighter, which he piloted together with his colleague Vladimir Serjogin.

Their plane crashed in insufficiently clarified circumstances. Many conspiracy theories were woven around the accident. The investigation was conducted by the KGB, which concluded that the airbase personnel is to be blamed for the error because they gave the pilots an outdated weather report and did not remove the extra fuel tanks from the aircraft.

Gagarin’s MiG-15UTI entered a spin either due to an impact of a flock of birds or because of a sudden move to avoid another aircraft, while nor he nor his co-pilot managed to adjust it before they hit the ground. Namely, due to the wrong weather report, they believed their altitude to be higher than it actually was.

It remains an open question whether the KGB told the truth. After cremation, Gagarin’s ashes were buried in the walls of the Kremlin on Red Square in Moscow.

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