A Top Soviet-Era Test Pilot

Georgy Mosolov talks about his favorite MiGs and his friend Yuri Gagarin

George Mosolov toured the National Air and Space Museum in 2007. (Courtesy Rodney O. Rogers)
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Air & Space: Colonel Mosolov, you were a friend of Yuri Gagarin’s until his death in 1967. How did you meet him?

Mosolov: In March 1961, Gagarin was one of a group of eight cosmonauts who came to Zhukovsky airdrome for zero G training. I met him there along with the other trainees. We liked each other, and ultimately Yuri and I became very close friends. For example, after Gagarin’s flight into space, my wife and I and Gagaran and his wife vacationed together at a Black Sea resort.

Air & Space: What kind of background did Yuri Gagarin come from?

Mosolov: He was from a small rural village. His parents were simple farmers. Originally schooled as a steel worker, he learned to fly in a flying club and ultimately became a pilot in the Russian Air Force. He was largely self-educated. In every way, he was a self-made man.

Air & Space: What was Gagarin like socially?

Mosolov: Gagarin was intellectually curious and had a wide range of interests. He had excellent communication skills and could converse easily with many different kinds of people.

Air & Space: Gagarin became famous after his flight into space. How did this affect him?

Mosolov: Gagarin was an uncomplicated, humble man, a very sincere person. World fame did not change him in the least.

Air & Space: Did Gagarin have a good sense of humor?

Mosolov: Gagarin had a great sense of humor. He was a superb teller of jokes and an accomplished mimic, almost a stand up comedian. He knew how to relax, and he enjoyed having a good time. He was at ease everywhere.

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