Do You Know the Word “Blaginism”?

The word “blaginism” was coined by Soviet officials to mean “selfish exhibitionism.” You see, a pilot named Ivan Blagin caused the Soviets much embarrassment. Let me see if I can summarize what happened.

USSR pass. Airplane Tupolew / Tupolev ANT-20. Dead in 1935 ~ Public Domain

Joseph Stalin wished the Soviets to rule the world of aviation. Therefore, he set Nikolaevich Tupolev, a top designer, with the task of creating a great passenger plane in honor of the writer, Maxim Gorky.

Tupolev was given an entire factory space and 800 workers to complete the task. The result was the largest plane at the time. In fact, its wingspan was wider that a Boeing 747, and it had 8 engines. It could cruise at 137 MPH and could travel 1200 miles before refueling.

This was 1934, but, just consider, the Maxim Gorky had a newspaper office, a laundry, a pharmacy, a café, and a movie theatre onboard. Two months after its test flight, the Maxim Gorky was ready for its “maiden” voyage. Onboard were 40 very special passengers: a mix farmers who had made their quota, high performing factory workers, and other “heroes” of the Revolution, along with a staff of 23.

Vasily KuptsovMaksim Gorky ANT-20 (1934), Russian Museum, St. Petersburg ~ Public Domain

On 18 May 1935, the Maxim Gorky took flight with two biplanes setting just off its wings. The purpose of the biplanes was for to prove to onlookers how large the Maxim Gorky actually was. Ivan Blagin was one of the pilots of the smaller plane. The other plane was there to take pictures of the Soviet’s achievement.

Blagin began doing some aerial stunts to show off for a boy onboard the Gorky and on the ground below. Blagin performed a loop around the large plane, but, evidently, he miscalculated and slammed into one of the Maxim Gorky‘s wings. Both planes broke apart. Blagin was killed in the impact, but so were 43 people aboard the Maxim Gorky. Obviously, Blagin did not live up to the maxim of Soviet discipline. His surname was coined to remind others of their duty to their country.

The Russians built another “Gorky,” but with the world at war, faster and smaller airplanes were needed instead.

Other Resources:

Dead Beat Media: The Maxim Gorky

The Maxim Gorky

Tupolev ANT-20


About Regina Jeffers

Regina Jeffers is the award-winning author of Austenesque, Regency and historical romantic suspense.
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