Pyotr Nesterov

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Pyotr Nikolayevich Nesterov
Пётр Николаевич Нестеров
Pyotr Nikolayevich Nesterov.jpg
Born (1887-02-15)February 15, 1887
Nizhny Novgorod
Died September 8, 1914(1914-09-08) (aged 27)
Zhovkva, Kingdom of Galicia and Lodomeria, Austria-Hungary
Allegiance  Russian Empire
Service/branch Imperial Russian Army
Imperial Russian Air Service
Years of service 1906—1914
Rank Stabskapitän
Battles/wars First World War

Pyotr Nikolayevich Nesterov (Russian: Пётр Николаевич Нестеров, Ukrainian: Петро Миколайович Нестеров) (born on 27 February [O.S. 15 February] 1887 in Nizhny Novgorod and died on 8 September [O.S. 26 August] 1914 in Zhovkva, Lviv Oblast) was a Russian pilot, an aircraft technical designer and an aerobatics pioneer.

Monument in Nizhny Novgorod of the Nieuport IVG monoplane in which Nesterov performed the first loop.
Morane-Saulnier type "G"
Painting of the Aerial ramming attack performed by Pyotr Nesterov
Remains of the Albatros B.II biplane attacked by Nesterov.
Monument to Pyotr Nesterov in Nizhny Novgorod

Life and career[edit]

The son of a military academy teacher, Pyotr Nesterov chose a military career. In August 1904 he left the military school in Nizhny Novgorod and went to the artillery school, considered one of the best of its kind. He became a second lieutenant and served in the 9th East Siberian artillery brigade in Vladivostok. In 1909, he came into contact with aviation when he was sent to an aircraft manufacturer to work. He built his first glider and learned to fly it.

In 1911 Nesterov began formal training as a pilot and graduated on 11 October 1912. A short time later he also passed the examination to be a military pilot. In May 1913 he became leader of a relay in Kiev, completing night flights at that time.


Nesterov believed an aircraft could fly a loop, a feat not previously performed. Despite the doubts of his peers, Nesterov proved his theory on 9 September 1913 (27 August by the calendar then used in Russia) and became the first pilot to fly a loop. This was done in a Nieuport IV monoplane with a 70 hp Gnome engine over Syretzk Aerodrome near Kiev, before many watchers. For this he was disciplined with ten days of close arrest, ostensibly "for risking government property". His achievement made him famous overnight and when the feat was duplicated by a Frenchman, Adolphe Pégoud, the punishment was reversed; he was promoted to staff captain and later awarded a medal. He founded the practice of aerobatics, stressing the value of these exercises for a military pilot. Nesterov improved the flight methods and designed new flight models.

The First World War gave Nesterov the opportunity to put his theories to practice and he proved to be particularly adept at controlling the bomb release. Aircraft were unarmed at this early stage, and Nesterov became the first pilot to destroy an enemy airplane in flight. On 25 August 1914 (as the date was reckoned using the Old Style calendar then still used by the Russian Empire), after using a pistol to fire unsuccessfully at the Austrian Albatros B.II reconnaissance aircraft of observer Baron Friedrich von Rosenthal and pilot Franz Malina from FLIK 11, he used his Morane-Saulnier Type G monoplane (s/n 281) to ram it.[1] Eager to destroy enemy aircraft, he probably intended to hit it with a glancing blow but damaged his own aircraft as much as the enemy's and both planes crashed. As was common for the time, Nesterov was not strapped in and he fell from his plane, dying of his injuries the next day.[2] The Austrian pilot and observer also died. The town of Zhovkva (currently in Lviv Oblast, Ukraine) near the famous air fight was renamed Nesterov in 1951, though it has since reverted to Zhovkva.


Nesterov was buried in Kiev, Ukraine. His ramming method was used during the Second World War by a number of Soviet pilots with success and without their loss of life. The air-combat technique of ramming Nesterov pioneered became known in Russian as taran. In honor of Nesterov the Soviet Union established the Nesterov's cup for the best aerobatics crew. The cup was donated to the International Aeronautics Federation in 1962. It is awarded to the Men's World Team Champions of the World Aerobatic Championships.[3] The outer main-belt asteroid 3071 Nesterov discovered by Soviet astronomer Tamara Mikhailovna Smirnova in 1973 is named after him.[4]

His descendants moved to West Orange,NJ and a housing development was built in the early 1950s with the main road called Nestro Road.


Sources of information[edit]

  1. ^ Pusher Aces of World War 1'. p. 9. 
  2. ^ From Tsarist General to Red Army Commander by Mikhail Bonch-Bruyevich, translated by Vladimir Vezey, Progress Publishers, 1966, p30
  4. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)

External links[edit]