The first human to do anything is quite a special thing. While people will undoubtedly improve on the achievements on those that went before, the first time one of us achieves something is a big deal and those people should be celebrated, even in death. Which is why it’s a shame that for the last 45 years, no one has really known what happened to Yuri Gagarin, a Soviet cosmonaut and the first man to ever journey to space, when he died in strange circumstances in 1968. Fortunately though, now colleague and record holder in his own right (first man to conduct a space walk) Aleksey Leonov, has now revealed what happened.
While the official report of the circumstances that led to the death of Gagarin were generally accepted, several individuals have always postulated that there was more to it than meets the eye. Officially, Gagarin and instructor Vladimir Seryogin were travelling in a jet aircraft, when they banked sharply – it was presumed to avoid something like an air balloon – causing the plane to go into a tailspin and crash, killing them both.
Yuri Gagarin: Wikipedia.
However, Leonov – after 20 years of trying to get the truth out about the event – has now revealed that another jet was flying dangerously close to Gagarin’s and thanks to the bad weather, the jet’s passage forced Gagarin’s craft into a tailspin, resulting in the eventual crash.
Leonov even claims that he knows who was flying the other jet, but will not disclose his name because he’s still alive and it would simply tarnish his reputation.
This news may relight the conspiracy theories that have been around for decades, even though a KGB investigation nearer the time debunked many of the myths and rumours surrounding Gagarin’s death.
KitGuru Says: While a tragedy in its own right, Gagarin’s death was a career changer for other Russian cosmonauts like Valentina Tereshkova, who became too valuable to risk during aircraft test flights from then on.[Thanks RT, via Wired]