Marina Popovich

Marina Lavrentievna Popovich (née Vasiliyeva; 30 July 1931 – 30 November 2017) was a Soviet Air Force colonel, engineer, and decorated Soviet test pilot. In 1964, she became the third woman and the first Soviet woman to break the sound barrier.[1] Known as "Madame MiG", for her work in the Soviet fighter, she set more than one hundred aviation world records on over 40 types of aircraft over her career.[1][2]

Marina Popovich
2014 photo
Marina Lavrentievna Vasiliyeva
Марина Лаврентьевна Васильева

(1931-07-30)30 July 1931
Died30 November 2017(2017-11-30) (aged 86)
Occupation(s)pilot, author
Known for102 world records


Marina Vasilieva was born on 30 July 1931[3] in the Velizhsky District of Smolensk Oblast, but evacuated with her family to Novosibirsk during World War II.[4]

She began learning to fly as a child but, following the war, the Soviet Union barred women from serving as military pilots. At the age of 16, presenting herself as 22 years old, she wrote to Soviet Marshal Kliment Voroshilov asking to be admitted to a flying school. Voroshilov intervened on her behalf and she was admitted to the Novosibirsk Aviation Technicum where she graduated in 1951.[citation needed]

Initially, she worked as an engineer, then later as a flying instructor. In 1962, she entered into the first group of women that would train to become cosmonauts in the Soviet space program. After two months of training, she was turned away from the program.[4] Her husband, Pavel Popovich, was admitted to the program, becoming the eighth person in space aboard Vostok 4 in 1962.

She became a Soviet Air Force pilot in 1963, and in 1964 was admitted as a military test-pilot. Later that year (June 10),[5] she broke the sound barrier in a MiG 21. She entered the military reserves in 1978 and then joined the Antonov Design Bureau as a test pilot. At Antonov, she set ten flight records on the Antonov An-22 turboprop.[citation needed] She retired in 1984.

She authored nine books and two screenplays. A star in the Cancer constellation bears her name.[6]

Marina Popovich, a Russian Writers' Union member, authored nine books, including the poetry collection Zhizn – vechny vzlyot (Life's An Eternal Rise, 1972).[7] She was a co-author of two film scripts, Nebo So Mnoy (Sky Is With Me, 1974)[8] and Buket Fialok (Bouquet of Violets, 1983).[7]

Popovich died on November 30, 2017. She was buried with military honors at the Federal Military Memorial Cemetery.

Claims about UFOsEdit

Marina Popovich spoke about her experience with UFOs in her book titled UFO Glasnost (published in 1991 in Germany) and in public lectures and interviews. She claimed that the Soviet military and civilian pilots had confirmed 3000 UFO sightings and that the Soviet Air Force and KGB had recovered fragments of five crashed UFOs. The crash sites were Tunguska (1908), Novosibirsk, Tallinn, Ordzhonikidze and Dalnegorsk (1986).[citation needed]

Private lifeEdit

Marina Popovich's first husband was Pavel Popovich, a former Soviet cosmonaut,[7] with whom she had two daughters, Natalya (b. 1956) and Oksana (b. 1968), both Moscow State Institute of International Relations graduates.[9] She had two granddaughters, Tatyana and Alexandra, and grandson Michael, the latter born in England.[10] Her second husband was Boris Alexandrovich Zhikhorev, a retired Russian Airforce Major general, Deputy chairman of the Central Committee of the Union of the Soviet Officers.[11]

Awards and honorsEdit

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ a b "Биография летчика-испытателя Марины Попович" (in Russian). TASS. 2017-11-30.
  2. ^ Russian Cosmonaut Marina Popovich discloses UFOs. - ExopoliticsTV interview with Alfred Lambremont Webre.
  3. ^ Burgess, Colin; Hall, Rex (2009). The First Soviet Cosmonaut Team: Their Lives, Legacy, and Historical Impact. Berlin: Springer. p. 78. ISBN 9780387848235. LCCN 2008935694.
  4. ^ a b "Marina Popovich, Record-Breaking Soviet Test Pilot, Is Dead". New York Times. 2017-12-09.
  5. ^ Limited, Alamy. "Stock Photo - Test pilot Marina Popovich after her record setting flight of June 10 1964". Alamy. Retrieved 2019-12-05.
  6. ^ "Попович Марина Лаврентьевна". Archived from the original on 2022-06-20. Retrieved 2011-01-01.
  7. ^ a b c "Pavel Romanovich Popovich" (in Russian). Space Encyclopedia ASTROnote. 11 June 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  8. ^ Nebo So Mnoy at
  9. ^ "Pavel Popovich, sixth man in orbit, dies". collectSPACE. 30 September 2009. Retrieved 2009-09-30.
  10. ^ "М.Л. Попович. Фотографии". Современный музей спорта. Archived from the original on 2012-04-29. Retrieved 2011-10-10.
  11. ^ Kolysko, Tatyana. A Star Named Marina / Звезда по имени Марина. Gudok, No. 194, 2003.

External linksEdit