That's perfect, just what I'm looking for! I've duly edited the story above. Thanks heaps for the advice, I really appreciate it.
Need Help with Pilot Biographies
Posted 24 July 2017 - 12:51
Posted 26 July 2017 - 12:26
LUFTWAFFE PILOT BIOGRAPHY – The Transporter
I always wanted to fly.
Can I say that? It seems so trite. So kitsch. It's what everybody seems to say. However for me it is true. Flying has been my life, and it has taken me so very far.
It would never have been possible were it not for my father. When he passed away he left me a small income. Not much, but it was enough. With it I was able to travel, and to leave Europe and the hurts and blames of the Great War behind.
I learned to fly in Johannesburg, and for a time flew mailbags in West Africa on the Ghana route. Such beautiful country, I dream of it still. I crashed my first aircraft there at about the same time the economy back in Germany crashed too. Seemingly overnight, I lost both my mail contract and my father's income. Without money or prospects I drifted south. Finally in Cape Town with the last of my savings, I booked passage on a steamer, headed east.
I wandered for a time and ended up on the island of Papua New Guinea, flying the old Junkers W34s for an Australian mining company. In New Guinea the prejudice of the old world was left behind. Nobody cared who you were before, or where you came from. Nobody cared if you were German. I moved passengers and supplies from Wau to the remote goldfields of Edie Creek. I flew in the new workers and I took out the sick. I brought the beer.
The weather was lousy, but the money was good. While the rest of world wallowed in economic depression, it was a boom time for New Guinea gold. The mine expanded. So too did the fleet of aircraft, and I flew them all.
Time passed and my bank balance increased. Eventually, my savings and my logbook full, I realised it was time to come home. For I wished more than anything now to see my Homeland again and to start a family.
I boarded a steamer heading west, then up through the Suez canal. Across the Mediterranean and north by train through Italy. I returned home to a country transformed. My first stop was to a good tailor. Then, experienced, tanned and fit - I presented myself and my logbook to the Lufthansa offices in Berlin...
Those were the days, those few short years. A golden time. A time when the uniform of a German airman inspired trust and respect, and was welcomed anywhere in the world. I flew industrialists and businessmen across Europe. I flew carefree travellers to the Alps in Switzerland and in Italy, and I flew them home again. I carried foreigners and countrymen alike in safety and comfort. Our aircraft were immaculate. Our uniforms a source of pride.
Such a time, gone forever now.
The world has run mad. Where once I carried the rich and well to do. Now I carry people from all walks of life. From stone-faced Fallschirmjäger, to mere boys with no business being in uniform. I have carried fuel, livestock and ammunition beyond measure. I have struggled in every climate, helping unload scores of different cargoes. Or sat in the pilot's seat, engines ticking over and hands upon the throttles. As my passengers are lifted aboard, bloody and screaming.
I always wanted to fly.
Somebody once told me, a mile of runway can take you anywhere. I do not doubt it. I have seen so many miles of runway in my time. I just never dreamed they would lead me to this...
If anyone should find this letter, I trust they will ensure it reaches my daughter. So that one day when she is grown she might understand something of her father. Of how he took to the air. If not of where he fell.
Elsa $[lastName], daughter of $[firstName] and Hilde $[lastName]
Edited by Feathered_IV, 29 August 2017 - 08:16.
Posted 26 July 2017 - 14:12
"Stalin's fortress on fire! Is this madness or hell? The sound of the mortars, the music of death! We're playing the devil's symphony! Our violins are guns! Conducted from hell! Oh Stalingrad!"
- From Stalingrad by Sabaton.
Posted 26 July 2017 - 21:16
Nice work Feathered!
Intel firstname.lastname@example.orgGhz // Asus z170 Pro Gaming // 16GB Corsair Vengeance LPX 2666Mhz DDR4 // GTX 1080 // Crucial MX100 256GB SSD // 34" Dell U3415W 3440x1440 // Creative Sound Blaster Z // Saitek X-52 // Win10-64bit
Posted 10 August 2017 - 12:50
Thanks guys. I really do appreciate it.
Hobo, I was thinking that at the time of the person writing, the W34 would have been 10-15 years old and well obsolete by then. If you think it reads strangely however, just let me know and I'll be glad to change it.
Posted 15 August 2017 - 13:08
LUFTWAFFE PILOT BIOGRAPHY - Der Halsschmerzen
Medals are all that matters. That's what I say!
Let the old men and the politicians rant and rave over their Lebensraum and their Aryan destiny. What does any of that matter to me? The future belongs to the young. And when this war is fought and won; those with the Knight's Cross around their necks will be the only ones that matter.
A man with medals at his chest and throat will be the elite in any company. A smart uniform and my fair share of decorations will open doors that would otherwise be closed to me. My words will carry weight. All my wishes will be granted. Whether at work or at play. Or in love...
And after all, who can deny a Hero of anything?
My training is done and I'm off to Russia any day now. I'm ready too. I know I am. My instructor said I'm as good as anybody. Certainly as good as any Ivan, I'll wager. Just point me at them, and I'll show you how its done!
I must admit though; When I received the news of my posting abroad, I was disappointed not to be going to France. They say its like a rest cure there. A holiday. A good clean fight with the Tommies during the day. Then all the comforts of home and more besides at night. You can get anything in France. Anything at all, and it's yours for the taking. Just walk into any store. Just grab what you like and send it home - and it's all on credit!
Not at all like in Russia. Definitely not like in Russia. Just one scruffy little village after another they say, and no night-life to speak of. They even have lice. Lice. Just think of it!
Still, its not all bad. They say the victories come quick and easy in the East. If you want rapid promotion and some fast recognition... Russia is the place to be.
So there's the plan. A quick stint of service in the East. Just enough to make a name for myself. Six months. Maybe a year at most if the war lasts that long. I'll get some easy victories, and play the newsreel cameras and news photographers like a fiddle. Get some eye-catching markings on my machine perhaps. Something they won't be able to resist showing in the cinemas back home. Old-man Richthofen had his little red triplane, so why not something for me?
Then once the medals start flowing in, I can get a transfer home and back out of that dung heap. My father is an influential man after all. He knows the Herr Doktor, and he knows the value of a Hero for a son. Maybe I can even get a spot on one of those home defence units. Somewhere handy to Berlin... Oh yes, that's the way to do it!
Mark my words - Medals are all that matter...
Posted 16 August 2017 - 21:22
i7 7700k | GTX 1080 Ti | 16GB Corsair Dominator DDR4 | LG 34UM95 3440x1440 | HTC Vive | TrackIR 5 | Saitek X-55 HOTAS | MFG Crosswind graphite pedals
Posted 17 August 2017 - 02:14
The other cadets in the academy were all born in the big cities, even my closest friends – Zhora was from Voroshilovograd, Vanya and Grisha were from Kharkov, and the Alenchiev twins came from Moscow! Muscovites, all the way down in the Ukranian steppe! You're probably thinking, “how did a country boy like you end up among them, in Chuguev?"
You see, my parents were peasants but I left home very early to study in Kharkov, the closest thing to a big city near us. My brother had shown me the way – he went to Moscow to find work in 1931, but he traded the steel cranes for piston engines and wings. Sasha went from the fields, the wooden houses and the hardships of simple folk, to the skyscrapers he wanted to help build. His wings took him further away and now Captain Aleksandr $[lastName] has been to places I could only dream of seeing. He’s told me about the sunburnt fields in Spain, the cliffs in Crimea and the endless steppes of Mongolia. I want to hear what he thinks of the snowy forests of Finland, but I haven’t met him since. Nobody has, to be exact, except my mother in her dreams.
My class graduated in decent shape. A single U-2 was wrecked during the first solo flight of Denis Tikhonov. An engine failure while approaching the runway made us one airplane and one pilot shorter. His parents had died when he was young, and he had no siblings either. We had become his family, and we grieved like family. I completed the course without problems, except my first ever flight. I was nervous, I vomited all over the cockpit, Lieutenant Kalitvinets aborted the mission and gave me a second chance the next morning. I came prepared that time – I didn’t have any breakfast, so there was nothing to put out!
With my own wings, I’ve taught enough city kids and peasants alike to fill a regiment over the past year. I went from Starshina $[lastName] to $[startRank] $[lastName], and the cadets showed me the same respect I used to show my instructors but towards the last week of the course it always went down to first names.
The instructor life got old quickly though – I didn’t join the Army to teach kids who will then fly the newest planes, I joined to fly them myself! After two or ten requests my immediate superior Major Chernov, or Evgeniy Petrovich like we instructors called him, promised to put a word in for me but nothing came until the second Monday of July in 1941.
Evgeniy Petrovich, Zhora Safinskiy and I were ordered to report to Kharkov immediately. Nobody said a word during the whole drive in Zhora's black car. The climb up the stairs of the regional headquarters was equally silent, as was the wait outside the brown door to see the colonel. Cigarettes were lit, matches passed around instinctively, and constant shouting on the phone behind the door. When the boss finally called us in, after what felt like an hour, he skipped the introductions and gestured at me and Safinskiy.
“To Moscow, report in two days the latest. Comrade Chernov is right, you won’t kill any Fascists aboard those cropdusters here. From there you will be posted to conversion regiments, and learn how to fight. Get out, don’t forget your papers. Chernov, you fly to Kiev today. Kalitvinets will take over from you.”
On the way back Evgeniy Petrovich drove while Zhora and I argued if we should fly or take the train to Moscow. At the aerodrome Chernov shook our hands and went to pack his belongings. “$[age] isn’t the right age to die, $[firstName]. Let’s meet here by New Year’s eve, friends”, he said. Two months later Kiev fell.
Edited by 216th_Lucas_From_Hell, 17 August 2017 - 02:29.
Posted 17 August 2017 - 08:47
Wow, I love that line; we had become his family, and we grieved like family. Fabulous work Lucas!
Posted 26 August 2017 - 01:57
<p>$[name] was born in Vladimirskiy Oblast, on $[birthdate] in a family of railway workers. After some years, his family moved to Moscow but their younger son's eagerness and dedication to become a sportsman secured him tryouts with Kazan's flourishing railway team. Thanks to an impressive performance and his parent's connections the future footballer started playing as a forward for Kazanka’s youth team in 1936, staying there until the end of 1938.</p>
<p>Standing at 172cm, $[lastName] joined the army in 1939 and like many footballers who were drafted, his professional career was funnelled to CDKA, the Red Army Central House in Moscow. An athletic person from an early age, $[firstName] was capable of shooting with both feet and could jump higher than most defenders. He made up for his modest height and unremarkable technique with speed, strength and an acute understanding of the game to get to the best scoring positions before his markers. A stellar debut season saw the forward score an impressive 21 goals between May and November to become the league's top scorer, most of them from within the six-yard box, but despite his efforts the so-called ‘Team of Lieutenants’ finished third, behind Tbilisi's Dynamo and CDKA's rivals and champions, Moscow’s Spartak.</p>
<p>A promising start to the 1940 season saw $[name] score an impressive ten goals in the opening seven games of the season, but a broken ankle sustained during a car crash in July ended his year prematurely. Without their main offensive threat, CDKA failed to break into the top three while Moscow’s Dynamo took the trophy home for the third time. During his recovery, $[lastName] took up flight lessons and finished his course on March 1941.</p>
<p>Fit and ready to return, $[name] played in all 11 matches by his club, renamed Red Army. His last game for the club was Red Army's last for the season too – a 1-1 home draw against Traktor. The result left the Army’s men 6th on the table, but the Fascist invasion in June cut the season short. $[startRank] $[lastName] wrote requests to his superiors demanding a transfer to the front from the 27th June, and these were followed by frequent demands.</p>
<p>Finally, the forward was denied infantry service but thanks to his satisfactory results at flight school and good disciplinary record he secured a transfer to an aviation conversion regiment to learn how to operate combat aircraft. An offer to fly U-2 trainers in the rear areas of the front had already been refused prior to that. On $[startDate], $[startRank] $[name] arrived at $[startSquad] for frontline aviation duties, having scored more goals and flown less hours than all of his comrades there.</p>
Edited by 216th_Lucas_From_Hell, 26 August 2017 - 02:12.
Posted 16 September 2017 - 22:00
<p>Born on $[birthdate] in the village of Alekseevka in the east of Ukraine to a family of peasants, $[name] finished education on schedule. Fit for the academic life, gifted with an impressive ease to learn and a serene temper that was extremely approachable, $[lastName] went on to graduate simultaneously from Zaparozhia’s pedagogical institute and the local aeroclub with excellent marks.</p>
<p>From the institute, $[name] became a teacher of Biology and Chemistry in a Zaparozhia school. A promising career in the pedagogical area had begun, but less than a year later the Fascist attack on the western borders of the Soviet Union prompted the intelligent pilot to be transferred from the peaceful classrooms to the strict discipline of Stalingrad’s aviation school.</p>
<p>A thorough if short course starting from the familiar U-2 and going into the trickier UTI-4 trainer gave $[lastName] the fundamental theory required to become a combat pilot, but the fighting spirit and reactions in face of the enemy's wall of fire were not something the tired teachers at Stalingrad could pass on with the chalkboard scribbles and drawings. Final conversion training into modern models was planned but eventually cancelled – the front needed the new Yakovlev, Mikoyan and Ilyushin models more than any school.</p>
<p>On the same day of the course's completion, now $[startRank] $[name] was assigned to $[startSquadronName] in August 1941. The regiment had already been flying combat missions and was no strange to the heat of aerial battle, the deaths of comrades and the inevitably short life expectancy of newly formed pilots like $[firstName]. This was a far cry from the quiet life riding the outdated Polikarpovs at Stalingrad.</p>
<p>On the very first day, the stern regiment commander immediately took $[lastName] for a clerk – intelligent, quiet and serene like an elder, how’s that a fighter pilot? A training accident right on the first adaptation flight aboard new aircraft only made things worse. $[startRank] $[lastName] took off successfully, and followed the flight leader comfortably as they climbed left around the airfield. As the Captain took $[lastName] through a series of manoeuvres in formation to show what the machine was capable of, the novice panicked after getting too close to the leader and took impulsive action to avoid a collision. The aircraft entered a spin, and despite its pilot's best efforts recovery came too close to the ground – crashing into a tree line at 300 km/h, $[lastName]’s journey had gone from classroom to cockpit to hospital.</p>
<p>Upon returning after what felt like an eternity, news came that the Colonel was already set on shipping the newcomer back to the rear where such weak types belonged, but an intervention by the one of the unit's most decorated pilots changed things around.</p>
<p>“The kid goes from Ukraine to Stalingrad, smashes into the woods and stands in front of us in one piece! Not bad, Gypsy! Don’t worry, we'll teach you how to fly like a true falcon.”</p>
<p>On $[startDate], thousands of kilometres from home, $[name]’s name appeared in the briefing form for the regiment’s next combat mission.</p>
Edited by 216th_Lucas_From_Hell, 16 September 2017 - 22:00.
Posted 17 September 2017 - 09:40
<p>He didn't exactly take to his parents, that's for sure. How else could you explain it? A son born into a family of five children, whose parents were renowned teachers, suddenly put all his good education behind to fly one of these dangerous aeroplanes around?!</p>
<p>But this story goes way back, before the wings or the smell of querosene. $[firstName] had a build well beyond his friends and relatives. Strong like oak and measuring close to 2 metres at age 16, his strong and impulsive character earned him a bad reputation among teachers. «$[lastName], shut your mouth» was heard at least once a day within the school walls, and warnings from the directors were not few. But what could they do in the end? The tall devil's parents taught in the same school, all the other students loved him and the worst of all, he had good grades!</p>
<p>It was more or less a dogma in the school that if they were patient enough, if they could tolerate his antics just a little bit longer, $[name] would find his way and eventually graduate to become a model professional, someone his parents could finally be proud of. Everything was going to plan, but as always $[lastName] found ways to be disruptive – after finishing middle school, he announced to his parents and teachers that he was leaving home and, with immediate effect, was now a student of the Kuybishev aviation club instead. The poor teachers were in shock of course, and rightfully so.</p>
<p>Like all of his usual schemes, this had some trickery to it. Besides learning to fly, he was also enrolled into the Construction Institute full time, but this only emerged later to his parents – you see, after the shock the $[lastName]s spent two whole months without speaking to $[firstName]. One way or another the teachers were right – having picked his path, $[name] took his studies seriously and finished both his construction and flying studies together, taking up the job of instructor at the local aeroclub.</p>
<p>Without warning his family beforehand, $[firstName] enlisted as a pilot and in January 1940 secured a posting to the famous Chkalov Military Aviation School, where he would become a fully trained combat pilot. Fresh out of the production line, his character earned him repeated arguments with superiors, and gave him enough trouble. When what was his regiment then received orders to relocate to the Finnish border, the commander didn't feel he was fit for actual combat – too reckless, he remarked.</p>
<p>But now things were different. Reckless or not, pilots were needed all over the front, and exactly two weeks after the German invasion $[startRank] $[name] was picked for conversion training. After he had failed to see combat, the war had come to him, and the disruptive giant would now fly again. He wrote to his parents announcing this.</p>
Posted 17 September 2017 - 13:02
<p>$[name] was born on $[birthDate] in the settlement of Nikolaevskiy by the outskirts of Nikolaev, near Stalingrad. Raised in a family of factory workers, $[lastName] finished middle school and went on to study at the local polytechnic college. Successful graduation meant either a professional formation or access to higher education, and neither seemed like bad ideas for the children of workers and peasants.</p>
<p>With a little creativity, a friend in the selection committee and just enough sympathy to convince sceptics, $[name] managed to enrol in Moscow's famous conservatory, in the faculty of composers. This was no small feat, as the institute had been led by no other than Pete Chaikovsky at the time of its opening!</p>
<p>In the middle of the 1930s the Soviet government uttered a clear shout – “Komsomols members, to the airplanes!” Having achieved eligibility for the programme, $[firstName] decided to add that to an already wide skills set. The composer finished basic flight instruction at Saratovsk's aviation school a year later and thanks to a steady hand and a good relationship with its commander, an immediate posting to the Central Aerial Instruction School in Moscow came.</p>
<p>Another year, another course completed, and $[lastName] was ready to teach aspiring pilots to fly. Work for a competent flying instructor was abundant, and rightfully so! First came a transfer to the aeroclub in Nalchik by the Caucasus, then a brief successful stint at Chernigov, followed by a far posting to Nikolaev in Ukraine. Upon meeting every group of students, $[firstName] would tell them “you need to fly like you dance to music, young ones. The sound of the engine must inspire you, otherwise you’re not birds soaring high but potato sacks strapped to a seat.”</p>
<p>A skilful instructor with good references across the Soviet Union, $[name]’s work didn’t go unnoticed. After being drafted to the Army and starting a combat aviation course in Kacha near Sevastopol with the goal of becoming an instructor there, all plans went out of the window: today, at 4 AM, the German army had attacked the borders of the Soviet Union. It was time to head to the front, and the next day a joint letter by the cadets requesting the course to be accelerated as to allow for immediate posting to the borders found its way to the commander’s desk. $[firstName] was the first to sign it.</p>
Posted 21 September 2017 - 13:23
<p>You could say I've adapted well to the new surroundings, yes. The lads insist it's because I'm a good storyteller but I think it's my clothes. But where are my manners, of course! I am $[startRank] $[firstName] Vasilyevich $[lastName], combat pilot. I arrived here yesterday, transferred from my previous regiment... rather, from what was left of it.</p>
<p>I'm from the nice and warm city of Makhachkala in the heart of Dagestan, nicely positioned with the sun rising from the Caspian Sea and setting into the Black Sea. My parents are regular working folk, and I miss them very much. The letters come often though, that helps. When I was little we moved to Novocherkassk, near Rostov. I spent my childhood near the Don, and the 8 years I have of education were completed there too. When I was old enough, I joined the Nizhneshilovskiy aeroclub and learned how to fly there. You see, Rostov's and Novocherkassk's didn't have any spaces and I didn't know anyone who could help me wiggle my way in there. I'm thankful in the end, the instructors were kind and I made some friends easily.</p>
<p>After school I joined the local polytechnic and studied to become a photographer. I brought some photos I made back then along with me, most of them were left with my parents but I managed to bring a few if you want to see them later. A year after graduating like most folks my age I was drafted into the Red Army's ranks. Life wasn't bad there, though the food was, but my main complaint was that I had been drafted as an infantryman! A transfer request to the battalion commander six months later was heard but only halfway - they sent me from infantry to cavalry. It was only after I went to the army headquarters' office, fed up of the smelly interior of tanks and shovelling horse dejects, that I got my transfer to the Yeisk naval aviation school.</p>
<p>A year later, course completed and all documentation in order, the news came: the Soviet Union had been invaded. You might have guessed that as a pilot - a qualified military pilot, mind you - I would have been sent straight to conversion training or even directly to a frontline regiment, right? I thought so too, but the bosses had different plans. The first orders came, and I was to be transferred to an rifle division in Moldova. I'll never forget what felt like a century in that hot train, full of tense people waiting to see war for the first time, with myself wondering how many days I would last. When we arrived to Kiev the division I and a few trainmates were supposed to join had already ceased to exist. All of us were reassigned to a cavalry unit stationed by Chisinau where I first saw the enemy, blood and the death of dear comrades.</p>
<p>The defining point of my journey came in the two weeks I spent there. As we retreated with the little equipment and manpower we had left, Fascist dive bombers found our position conveniently driving along the road to Ukraine. Without opposition, as if playing a game at a carnival, they dove down on our column and dropped their bombs directly onto us. With the little time I had I jumped off the armoured car and ran to cover behind a tree. The noise was deafening. Engines, sirens, explosions, the crackling of ammunition detonating inside burning vehicles, soldiers screaming in pain, an officer could be heard praying while covered in blood... I sat behind that tree waiting for the bombers to go away. When I approached the burning wreck of my car it dawned on me that the last of my friends from the train to Kiev were gone. That was more than I could take, and once our column reached the next city I demanded to the first general I saw to be sent to an aviation regiment. I had already flown the U-2 and R-5 at school, and I had a few hours on the I-16 as well! I could do better than sit around while Hitler's cronies set me on fire inside a tin can.</p>
<p>Some fast paperwork got me transferred to a fighter regiment three days later. It was more of a squadron than a regiment at this point, with only five I-16s and seven pilots plus me left. Bad weather prevented any flying that day but the next morning we set out with all our aircraft and I was part of the mission. Carrying RS rockets, we were told to hunt down and destroy enemy infantry columns. Unfortunately, halfway to the target a large group of Messerschmitts came over us and broke our formation. Two of them figured me out for an easy target and despite evading their fire for a whole minute I fell victim to them eventually. After some cannon shells set a fuel tank on fire, I bailed out with whatever altitude I had left, with my flight suit on fire. Through luck or a fate I landed on a shallow creek, which kept me from both burning and drowning to death. The scars on my arms are a reminder of that time though, and it helps me keep my eye on the skies at all times. The next day when I returned to the airbase there was only one Ishak parked there, and it was clear the regiment was no more... so, long story short, I was transferred to $[startSquadronName].</p>
<p>When I arrived here the squadron commander took me for some lost soldier, but I can't blame him. The infantry overalls are the only clothes I have left, how could he know I was a pilot?</p>
Edited by 216th_Lucas_From_Hell, 21 September 2017 - 13:31.
Posted 25 September 2017 - 16:45
<b>The small town aviator was born in Novonikolaevsk, what today we call Novosibirsk. He came to be in $[birthDate, son of a poor family that had resettled from Vyatsk. They say need makes the man and that holds true here – at the young age of 14, $[name] started working for Sibstroitrest fitting roofs on the company’s buildings after school.</b>
<b>A man of true Siberian character, he fell in love with aviation at an early age. It was a school morning, but $[firstName] and his classmates had gotten word that the first aeroplane was coming to Novosibirsk. The children skipped school, and were harshly punished at home afterwards, but the sight of the metallic Junkers arriving then soaring again cast a spell of long-lasting effects – after daydreaming about it for a week, $[firstName] walked up to his parents and shouted to them: “I will become a pilot, and a pilot only!”</b>
<b>To become an aviator however you had to be a qualified specialist, and a roof fitter was not exactly that. To the dismay of his parents, after completing 7th Class $[lastName] quit his job at Sibstroitrest and enrolled at the local FZU. He cut ties with this father but sent the little allowance he earned to his mother and siblings. Living in a dormitory room shared with fifteen other students, all they had to eat was a loaf of bread a day with some water on the side. Hungry as they were, the boys helped each other and after four years $[name] and his roommates were declared specialists – little $[firstName] was going to become an aviator!</b>
<b>The process seemed straightforward enough at first glance. After submitting his application, he was told to report at Perm’s Aviation School. Four years of hard work made the long train ride seem like nothing, but upon arrival $[lastName] was told of the news: ‘starting last week, in Perm we only graduate mechanics now.’ He hadn’t even earned his wings and they had already been cut! With no option but to follow through, $[lastName] took consolation from learning the ins and out of the Army's aircraft. Weekly letters were written to the division commander, to the chief of the local military district and even to the Commissar of Defence, comrade Voroshilov. $[firstName] could still only think about flying, but as time went his letters stopped being ignored and instead received clear rejections – why would the Army let go of such a crafty technician?</b>
<b>As earlier in life, $[name] had to engineer his own way out of this problem. Encouraged by a chance meeting with Hero of the Soviet Union and famous test pilot Stepan Suprun, he managed to sign up for an aviation instruction course at the local aeroclub in September during his holidays. In exactly seventeen days, after sweet-talking an instructor into it, $[firstName] completed the supposedly two-year course and had finally become a qualified pilot – grade “Excellent”. The documents were enough for a transfer to Kacha’s military flight school where he again ranked “Excellent” and completed the course in less than a year.</b>
<b>His first assignment took $[name] to $[startSquadName] by the western borders of the Soviet Union where he served for six months until a shortage of qualified instructors took him to Krasnodar. The news around the world gave a clear signal however – qualified pilots were needed on the front, and on $[startDate] $[startRank] $[lastName] saw his first combat, back at $[startSquadronName].</b>
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