Sunday 27 March 2022

March 27th 1968: The Death of Colonel Yuri Gagarin


Photograph of Major Yuri Gagarin saluting at Vnukovo Airport on the outskirts of Moscow on April 14th 1961 (Photo Credit: TASS).

Colonel Yuri Gagarin, the Russian cosmonaut who became the first man to orbit the earth, died on March 27th 1968 when a MiG-15 UTI trainer he was co-piloting with a flight instructor crashed. 

He was 34 years of age.

Gagarin's feat of orbiting the earth was achieved on April 12th 1961.

An air force officer, the chronology of his promotions were:

. Lieutenant in 1957

. Senior Lieutenant in 1959

. Major in 1961

. Lieutenant Colonel in 1962

. Colonel in 1963

Source: Sputnik Media which summarised declassified archival material released to coincide with "Cosmonautics Day" in 2018.


The rank of Captain appears to have existed in the Soviet Air Force. If so, he skipped the rank of Captain, because he was promoted from Senior Lieutenant to Major while in orbit (considered "in the field").

© Adeyinka Makinde (2022).

Adeyinka Makinde is a writer based in London, England.

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