French expedition led by Maurice Herzog, for the first time reached the summit of an eigth-thousander, Annapurna. Maurice Herzog wrote a book about this expedition, which was translated into Russian and published in 1960. "Annapurna" became my first book about alpinism. I was about 10 years old when I read it for the first time and since then I dreamed of mountains. Later, I tried to find alpinists in our city. Unfortunately, mountaineering was not a popular hobby then. I knew there was a small alpinist club, but I didn't find them. Moreover, I learned that there was a minimum age requirement (16 or 18 years). I was a bit younger and I had to wait. The time flew, but for various reasons I never became a climber. Of course, I went the the nearby Zhiguli mountains and tried to learn rock-climbing, but I never visited the "real" mountains. Now, it's too late. So, who cares? I had a good dream to live with :). And thanks to all the guys from that French expedition in 1950 who gave me that dream!
35 years ago first Soviet supersonic transport jet liner Tu-144 crashed in Paris during the air show in Le Bourget. The pilots attempted to copy a maneuvre performed one day earlier by the team of Concorde, but the failure of the untested avionics led to the catastrophe. The airplane fell onto a small French town and destroyed 15 houses. 8 people were killed on land and all 6 pilots died. In spite of the accident, Tu-144 soon started making regular flights between cities of the USSR. However, because of large number of failures commercial flights of Tu-144 were soon stopped. Most of the airplanes were decommissioned. Some of them were used later as flying labs for scientific research. One of them was used by NASA. One of these flying labs is on the photo made in 1998 near Moscow. There is a lot of information on Tu-144 in the Internet, so I thought there's no need to write a long article about this magnificent airplane. The only sidenote I'm about to make is that contrary to popular belief Tu-144 was not a stolen Concorde, its design was based on original Soviet research works. However, its design was started only after the Soviet leaders learned about the Concorde project, to demonstrate the advantages of socialism. To a certain degree, they succeeded, because Tu-144 made its first test flight two months earlier than Concorde.