The educational project “Personalities of the Russian Community Abroad. 1920-1945”

Alexander Prokofiev de Seversky

07.04.2020
Alexander Prokofiev de Seversky

Alexander Prokofiev de Seversky

(1894 – 1974)

A pilot, an inventor, an aircraft-designer and an influential advocate for military use of strategic aviation. He was one of creators of U.S. Air Force. He proved it was necessary to consider aviation as a separate type of armed forces.

The man was born into a noble family of many generations. In 1914 he graduated from the Naval Academy as a midshipman. It was the time when he got interested in aviation when he had his first flight as a passenger at 17 years of age.

When WWI started, Alexander Prokofiev de Seversky studied the Officers Course on Aviation. He was seriously wounded during the very first flight when they had to amputate his leg. But the injury did not interrupt his career in aviation as Alexander found the way to fly in the skies even with one leg only. Thus, during the years of World War I he had 60 combat missions and defeated 13 aircrafts of the enemy.

In 1918 Seversky left for the US where he heard the news that Soviet Russia withdrew from WWI. Our hero decided to stay in USA where in 1921 he became a military design engineer. In 1922 Seversky (that was the surname he used in the US) established Seversky Aero Corp. (called Seversky Aircraft Corp. since 1931). Seversky patented plenty of inventions including an automated anchorage apparatus and a split underwater fin for hydro-airplanes; an anti-spin parachute; an adjustable pilot seat; a new method to balance flight compartment controls and others. At the same time, Seversky constructed airplanes such as fighter aircrafts (P-35, 2PA), an amphibian airplane (SEV-3) and others.

As WWII began, Seversky published his book titled “Victory Through Air Power” with 500,000 copies. Walt Disney made an animated documentary based on this book. Thanks to it, Seversky gained great popularity among all the groups of the American society; he became a member of 17 scientific and public organizations and held a degree of honorary doctor. Also, until his final days he continued to fly planes and by the end of 1950s he had over 13,000 hours flown. In 1946 Seversky received “the Medal for Merit” from President Harry Truman as the highest award in USA given to civilians.

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