Sep 9, 2008

Today in History - September 9

In 1909, Russian Pyotr Nesterov 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. Nesterov began formal training as a pilot and soon graduated. A short time later he also passed the examination to be a military pilot.

Nesterov believed that an aircraft could fly a loop, a feat not previously performed. Despite the doubts of his peers, Nesterov proved his theory on September 9, 1913 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 observers. He was disciplined with ten days house arrest for risking government property. His achievement made him famous overnight and 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 without rudders.

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, and is awarded to the Men's World Team Champions of the World Aerobatic Championships.