Zee Media Bureau
Moscow: The puzzle surrounding cause of death of the Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin- the first human to journey into outer space, may have been finally solved after 45 years, thanks to fellow cosmonaut Aleksey Leonov.
Leonov, who became the first man to conduct a spacewalk, claims an “unauthorised” aircraft flew too close to Gagarin’s aircraft, sending it into a whirl.
According to the Russia Today, Leonov has been trying to gain permission to disclose the real cause of Gagarin’s death for 20 years.
Gagarin and his flight instructor Vladimir Seryogin were killed in 1968 when their MiG-15 training jet he was piloting crashed near the town of Novoselovo, about 90km from Moscow.
Back then a State Commission established to investigate the accident (which Mr Leonov was part of) concluded that the MiG tried to avoid a foreign object - like geese or a hot air balloon.
That conclusion is believable to a civilian - not to a professional,” Leonov told Russia Today.
“In fact, everything went down differently,” he says.
Leonov, in an interview with Russia Today, claimed that he had been permitted to share a declassified report showing that an authorised Sukhoi fighter jet was flying dangerously close to Gagarin’s aircraft.
“We knew that a Su-15 was scheduled to be tested that day, but it was supposed to be flying at the altitude of 10,000 metres or higher, not 450-500 metres. It was a violation of the flight procedure,” he told the television channel.
Revealing the truth behind the events of the tragic day, Leonov says that Gagarin’s plane went into a spiral at 750km/h following the close pass by the jet.
However, he did not mention the name of the Sukhoi pilot.
“My guess would be that one of the reasons for covering up the truth was to hide the fact that there was such a lapse so close to Moscow,” he explained.
Earlier in 2004, he had already hinted in his book ‘Two Sides of the Moon’ that a Sukhoi jet may have been flying below its minimum allowed altitude. Leonov said he had been flying a helicopter in the same area on the day of the accident and heard “two loud booms in the distance”.
Previous theories have suggested that while piloting a test flight Gagarin made a poor manoeuvre or blacked out.