Zhukovsky, Nikolai Yegorovich

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(18471921), scientist whose research typified the innovative avionics of prerevolutionary Russia.

Like a number of other outstanding Russian scientists of the early Soviet period, Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovsky was trained in the tsarist era and began his scientific career before the revolution. A specialist in aerodynamics and hydrodynamics, he supervised the construction of one of the world's first experimental wind tunnels in 1902 and founded the first European institute of aerodynamics in 1904. He was a corresponding member of the St. Petersburg Academy of Sciences. Early in the Soviet period, Zhukovsky was chosen to head the new Central Aero-Hydrodynamics Institute.

Zhukovsky developed the principal concepts underlying the science of space flight, and in that sense he was a pioneer, not only of aviation in pre-revolutionary Russia, but of the later strides made by Soviet scientists. One of his innovations was the testing of intricate aerial maneuvers (e.g., loop-the-loop, barrel rolls, spins) based on his earlier studies of the flight of birds. Vladimir I. Lenin called Zhukovsky the "father of Russian aviation." He died of old age at seventy-four.

See also: aviation; space program


Oberg, James E. (1981). Red Star in Orbit. New York: Random House.

Petrovich, G. V., ed. (1969). The Soviet Encyclopedia of Space Flight. Moscow: Mir.

Albert L. Weeks