Famed pilot Mikhail Devyataev, 85, Hero of the Soviet Union, has died in Kazan. In 1945 he escaped from a Nazi concentration camp in an enemy aircraft.
Mikhail Devyataev was born on July 8, 1917 in Torbeevo, a worker settlement in Mordovia and was the 13th child in a large family. Before the Great Patriotic War (1941-1945) he graduated from the Kazan river transport technical secondary school as navigator. Coincidentally, he got training at the Kazan amateur flying school and in two years received a diploma from the Orenburg military pilots air school.
From the first days of the war the young pilot took part in the action, was flight commander in a fighter air regiment, made 180 sorties, downed 9 enemy planes personally and 16 in air battles, was wounded two times.
In an aerial combat above Lvov on July 13, 1944, Mikhail was shot down. He bailed out from the flaming plane and was taken prisoner. Kept in several Nazi concentration camps, such as the notorious Sachsenhausen, Devyataev eventually got into the Usedom island, where V-1 and V-2 rocket bombs were produced and tested. The prisoner workforce was doomed.
In February 1945, together with ten other prisoners, Mikhail seized a Heinkel aircraft and escaped on it from the " island of death ". The ex-prisoners crossed the front line and passed to the Soviet command strategic information on the top-secret Usedom production facility.
In the Soviet Union this unprecedented heroic feat was not duly valued. Mikhail Devyataev and the other participants in the escape got under a repressive action as ex-prisoners.
In 1957, thanks to the intervention of Sergei Korolev, famed designer of spaceships, Mikhail Devyataev and his associates were rehabilitated. Mikhail got the Hero of the Soviet Union title.
Until his last days, he lived in Kazan, capital of Tatarstan, on the Volga. He was captain of the river fleet, in charge of the crews of the first-ever Russian air-cushioned ships Raketa-001 and Meteor-002.
Mikhail Devyataev will be buried on the Arskoe veteran memorial cemetery in Kazan.