The Unknown Sukhoy

There is plenty of published material about Pavel Sukhoy, the legendary aircraft designer who grew up in Gomel. Nevertheless, he remains one of the most intriguing personalities of the past epoch. That is all due to the super secrecy, that surrounded the scientist. The Belarusian period of his life is even more scanty, though being looked through, it also reveals enough of newsworthy facts.
There is plenty of published material about Pavel Sukhoy, the legendary aircraft designer who grew up in Gomel. Nevertheless, he remains one of the most intriguing personalities of the past epoch. That is all due to the super secrecy, that surrounded the scientist. The Belarusian period of his life is even more scanty, though being looked through, it also reveals enough of newsworthy facts.

Gomel and Sukhoy…Pavel Osipovich personally stressed the antecedence of this bond. “Born in the village of Glubokoe near Gomel”, that’s what he wrote in his biography in front of the date July 10, 1895. The truth came out much later. His home place, indeed, proved to be the place of Glubokoe, but in Vitebsk region. It was there, where his father, Osip Andreevich, worked as a school teacher and their family lived until the departure for Gomel in the end of the 90’s. But at that times saying the truth equaled to reckless self-sacrifice. All the western Belarusians known in the Stalin epoch for their goals and achievements paid for this biography detail with their being repressed.

Castling in the birth place, however, didn’t discourage the inhabitants of Gomel, because in its streets the major years of Sukhoy’s life passed: barefoot childhood, gymnasium, the gap between studying in Moscow and teaching maths in a Gomel school for railroaders’ kids, that was headed by his father — the first in the Gomel land People’s teacher of Belarus. His parents were buried there.

The memory of the famous fellow countryman was eternized in any way possible, the museum expositions were created and filled out. After his death the monument in the central Lenin avenue was opened. His name was given to a street in a newly-built district. The building of Belarusian State University of Transport, where Sukhoy studied in the male gymnasium, got the memorial board.

But the right to bear the name of Sukhoy obtained another local high-education establishment — Gomel State Technical University, where they dreamed to open the faculty for preparing aircraft engineers. Though the project was not realized, it gave way to the remarkable cooperation with the Russian design engineering bureau in the name of Sukhoy. The bureau also supported the intention of Gomel citizens to bring out the little-known details of the Belarusian part of the aircraft designer’s:

“Some years ago the Moscovites asked us to organize an excursion to the minor motherland of the scientist — Vitebsk Glubokoe,” Valery Drigo recalls, the head of the university museum, on the subject of the research work initiation. “The eldest granddaughter of Pavel Osipovich, Maria Georgievna Voskresenskaya, arrived. She willingly responded to the idea of restoration of the stages of Sukhoy’s Belarusian life and asked to help her in compiling their family’s genealogic tree.”

Drigo’s notes already contain lots of curious facts. Owing to working with archives and documentary “identification parades”, the investigator found the former house of the Sukhoys family in one of the local streets:
“It located behind the school adjacent to the local orthodox church, where Pavel was christened. There, by the way, Napoleon stopped. Another inquisitive detail: Sukhoy’s godmother looked after the kids in the Oginsky family… When I enlarged the old photo, I discovered this building. I came to Glubokoe — and the house was there, safe and sound.”

Another turn opened in the genealogy labyrinth, also arises sharp interest. Until now the relatives of Sukhoy failed to be discovered neither in Gomel, nor in Glubokoe. But an unexpected hitch suddenly came out. The other day the students brought a picture of an aged Gomel lady, who came to the town upon the Sozh-river from Rostov-on-Don. In maidenhood she had the family-name Sukhaya and still remembers some biographical details. Who knows, may be she comes from the “branch” of the family, because Pavel Osipovich had five sisters.

…The university pushes forward to complete its “scientific research” before 2010, the anniversary year of the aircraft designer’s 115th birthday. At that time they dream to open their own exposition in the Technical University, dedicated to the unknown Sukhoy.

Violetta Draliuk
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