Wednesday, 3 September 2008

Mikhail Leontyevich Mil 1909-1970

Mikhail Leontyevich Mil was a founder of the Mil Moscow Helicopter Plant, which is responsible for many of the well-known Russian helicopter models, notably the Mil Mi-24 'Hind'.

He was born to a middle-class Jewish family, his grandfather was a cantonist drafted from Libava (today Liepaja), Latvia who settled in Siberia after 25 years of military service.

At the age 12, Mikhail got a first prize for a model glider competition. In 1926 he entered the Siberian Technological Institute in Tomsk. Since there was no training for aircraft engineers there, in 1928 he transferred to the Aerodynamic department, at the Mechanical Faculty of the Don Polytechnical Institute in Novocherkassk. He married a fellow student, P.G. Rudenko, in 1932 and 4 daughters and a son followed.

His successful career at TsAGI began in 1931. He fought in the Great Patriotic War in 1941 near Yelnya, but in 1943, he was called back to continue research and development of military aviation. He completed his dissertations ("Candidate", 1943, Ph.D., 1945) and in 1947 headed the Helicopter Lab at TsAGI, which was later turned into the Moscow Helicopter Plant.

Mikhail Mil's creations won many domestic and international awards and set 69 world records. Most notably, the Mil Mi-4 won a Gold Medal in the Brussels International Exhibition in 1958. In 1971, after his death, his Mil Mi-12 won the Sikorsky Prize as the most powerful helicopter in the world.