How the first plane hijacking in the USSR took place, during which a young stewardess was killed while rescuing passengers
How the first plane hijacking in the USSR took place, during which a young stewardess was killed while rescuing passengers
Flight attendant Nadezhda Kurchenko
Flight attendant Nadezhda Kurchenko

October 15 marks the 50th anniversary of the death of 19-year-old flight attendant Nadezhda Kurchenko, who at the cost of her own life tried to prevent the seizure of a Soviet passenger plane by terrorists. In our review - the story of the heroic death of a young girl.

This was the first time a passenger plane was hijacked on this scale. It was with him, in fact, that a long-term series of similar tragedies began, splashing the skies of the whole world with the blood of innocent people.

An-24 took to the skies from the Batumi airfield on October 15, 1970 at 12:30. The course is for Sukhumi. There were 46 passengers and 5 crew members on board. The scheduled flight time is 25-30 minutes, but life broke both the schedule and the schedule.

On the 4th minute of the flight, the plane deviated sharply from the course. Radio operators asked for the board - there was no response. Communication with the control tower was interrupted. The plane was leaving in the direction of near Turkey. Military and rescue boats left the sea. Their captains received an order: to follow at full speed to the place of a possible disaster.

The board did not respond to any of the requests. A few more minutes - and the An-24 left the airspace of the USSR. And in the sky over the Turkish coastal airfield Trabzon, two missiles flashed - red, then green. It was the emergency landing signal. The plane touched the concrete pier of a foreign air harbor. Telegraph agencies all over the world immediately reported: a Soviet passenger plane had been hijacked. The flight attendant was killed, there are wounded. Everything.

The airport where the tragedy occurred
The airport where the tragedy occurred

Remembers Georgy Chakhrakia - the commander of the An-24 crew, No. 46256, who performed a flight on the Batumi-Sukhumi route on October 15, 1970 - I remember everything. I remember thoroughly.

Such things are not forgotten, - On that day I said to Nadya: “We agreed that in life you would consider us your brothers. So why aren't you being frank with us? I know that soon I will have to take a walk at the wedding …”- the pilot recalls with sadness. - The girl raised her blue eyes, smiled and said: "Yes, probably for the November holidays." I was delighted and, shaking the wings of the plane, shouted at the top of my voice: “Guys! On holidays we go to the wedding!”… And in an hour I knew that there would be no wedding…

Today, 45 years later, I intend to once again - at least briefly - recount the events of those days and speak again about Nadya Kurchenko, her courage and her heroism. To tell about the overwhelming reaction of millions of people of the so-called stagnant time to sacrifice, courage, and courage of a person. To tell about this first of all to the people of the new generation, the new computer consciousness, to tell how it was, because my generation remembers and knows this story, and most importantly - Nadia Kurchenko - and without reminders. And young people should know why many streets, schools, mountain peaks and even an airplane bear her name.

… After takeoff, greetings and instructions to the passengers, the flight attendant returned to her work room, a narrow compartment. She opened a bottle of Borjomi and, letting the water shoot with sparkling tiny cannonballs, filled four plastic cups for the crew. Putting them on a tray, I entered the cockpit.

The crew was always glad to have a beautiful, young, extremely friendly girl in the cockpit. Probably, she felt this attitude towards herself and, of course, was happy too. Perhaps, in this hour of her death, she thought with warmth and gratitude about each of these guys, who easily accepted her into their professional and friendly circle. They treated her like a younger sister with care and trust.

Of course, Nadia was in a wonderful mood - everyone who saw her in the last minutes of her pure, happy life said.

After getting the crew drunk, she returned to her compartment. At that moment, the call rang: the flight attendant was called by one of the passengers. She walked over. The passenger said: - Tell the commander urgently, - and handed her an envelope.

The plane on board which the tragedy occurred
The plane on board which the tragedy occurred

At 12.40. Five minutes after takeoff (at an altitude of about 800 meters), the man and the guy sitting in the front seats called the flight attendant and gave her an envelope: "Tell the crew commander!" The envelope contained the "Order No. 9" printed on a typewriter: 1. I order to fly along the indicated route. 2. Stop radio communication. 3. For non-observance of the order - Death. (Free Europe) P. K. Z. Ts. the man was dressed in the dress uniform of a Soviet officer.

Nadia took the envelope. Their gazes must have met. She must have been surprised at the tone of the words. But she did not find out anything, but stepped to the luggage compartment door - further on was the door of the pilot's cabin. Probably, Nadia's feelings were written on her face - most likely. And the sensitivity of the wolf, alas, surpasses any other. And, probably, thanks to this sensitivity, the terrorist saw in Nadia's eyes hostility, subconscious suspicion, a shadow of danger. This turned out to be enough for a sick imagination to announce the alarm: failure, sentence, exposure. Self-control refused: he literally ejected from the chair and rushed after Nadya.

She had only managed to take a step towards the cockpit when he flung open the door of her compartment, which she had just closed. she cried, but he was approaching like the shadow of a beast. She understood: the enemy was in front of her. In the next second he understood, too: she would break all plans.

Nadia screamed again, and at the same instant, slamming the cockpit door, she turned to face the enraged bandit and prepared to attack. He, as well as the crew members, heard her words - no doubt. What was there to do? Nadia made a decision: not to let the attacker into the cockpit at any cost. Anyone! He could be a maniac and shoot the crew. He could kill the crew and passengers. He could … She did not know his actions, his intentions. And he knew: jumping to her, he tried to knock her down. Resting her hands on the wall, Nadia held on and continued to resist.

The first bullet hit her in the thigh. She pressed even more tightly against the pilot's door. The terrorist tried to squeeze her throat. Nadia - knock the weapon out of his right hand. A stray bullet went into the ceiling. Nadya fought back with her feet, hands, even her head.

The crew assessed the situation instantly. The commander abruptly interrupted the right turn, in which they were at the moment of the attack, and immediately overwhelmed the roaring car to the left, and then to the right. In the next second, the plane went steeply upward: the pilots tried to knock down the attacker, believing that his experience in this matter was not great, and Nadia would hold out.

Passengers were still wearing belts - after all, the display did not go out, the plane was only gaining altitude. In the cabin, seeing a passenger rushing to the cockpit and hearing the first shot, several people instantly unfastened their belts and jumped out of their seats. Two of them were closest to the place where the criminal was sitting, and the first to feel the trouble. Galina Kiryak and Aslan Kaishanba, however, did not have time to take a step: they were outstripped by the one who was sitting next to the one who had fled into the cockpit. The young bandit - and he was much younger than the first, for they turned out to be father and son - pulled out a sawed-off shotgun and fired along the cabin. A bullet whizzed over the heads of the shocked passengers.

- Don `t move! he yelled. “Don't move!” The pilots began to throw the plane from one position to another with even greater sharpness. Young shot again. The bullet pierced the fuselage skin and exited through. Depressurization of the aircraft was not yet threatened - the height was insignificant.

Opening the cockpit, she shouted to the crew with all her might: - Attack! He is armed!”The next moment after the second shot, the young man opened his gray cloak and people saw the grenades - they were tied to the belt.“This is for you! he shouted. “If anyone else gets up, we'll blow up the plane!” It was obvious that this was not an empty threat - in case of failure, they had nothing to lose.

Meanwhile, despite the evolution of the aircraft, the elder remained on his feet and, with bestial fury, tried to tear Nadia away from the cockpit door. He needed a commander. He needed a crew. He needed a plane. '' Struck by the incredible resistance of Nadia, enraged by his own powerlessness to cope with the wounded, bloody fragile girl, without aiming, without thinking for a second, he fired point-blank and, throwing the desperate defender of the crew and passengers into the corner of the narrow passage, burst into the cockpit … Behind him - his geek with a sawn-off shotgun. Then there was a massacre. Their shots were muffled by their own shouts: - To Turkey! To Turkey! Return to the Soviet coast - blow up the plane!

Monument to the flight attendant Nadezhda Kurchenko
Monument to the flight attendant Nadezhda Kurchenko

- Bullets were flying from the cockpit. One walked through my hair, - says Vladimir Gavrilovich Merenkov from Leningrad. He and his wife were passengers on an ill-fated flight in 1970. - I saw: the bandits had pistols, a hunting rifle, one grenade from the elder was hanging on his chest. The plane threw left and right - the pilots probably hoped that the criminals would not stand on their feet.

Shooting continued in the cockpit. There then 18 holes will be counted, and a total of 24 bullets were fired. One of them hit the commander in the spine: Georgy Chakhrakia - My legs were taken away. Through efforts, I turned around and saw a terrible picture, Nadia was lying motionless on the floor in the door of our cabin and was bleeding. Navigator Fadeev lay nearby. And behind us stood a man and, shaking a grenade, shouted: “Keep the seashore on the left! Heading south! Do not enter the clouds! Obey, otherwise we'll blow up the plane!"

The offender did not stand on ceremony. Tore off the radio communication headphones from the pilots. Trampled over the lying bodies. Flight mechanic Hovhannes Babayan was wounded in the chest. The co-pilot Suliko Shavidze was also shot, but he was lucky - the bullet got stuck in the steel tube of the seat back. When the navigator Valery Fadeev came to his senses (his lungs were shot), the bandit swore and kicked the seriously wounded one. Vladimir Gavrilovich Merenkov - I said to my wife: "We are flying towards Turkey!" - and was frightened that when approaching the border we might be shot down. The wife also remarked: “The sea is under us. You feel good. You can swim, but I can't! " And I thought, “What a stupid death! I went through the whole war, signed on the Reichstag - and on you!"

The pilots still managed to turn on the SOS signal. Giorgi Chakhrakia - I said to the bandits: “I am wounded, my legs are paralyzed. I can only control my hands. I have to help the co-pilot ", - And the bandit replied:" In war, everything happens. We may perish. " Even the thought flashed to send "Annushka" to the rocks - to die ourselves and finish off these bastards. But there are forty-four people in the cabin, including seventeen women and one child. I said to the co-pilot: “If I lose consciousness, navigate the ship at the request of the bandits and put it down. We must save the plane and passengers! We tried to land on Soviet territory, in Kobuleti, where there was a military airfield. But the hijacker, when he saw where I was directing the car, warned that he would shoot me and blow up the ship. I made a decision to cross the border. And after five minutes we crossed it at a low altitude …. The aerodrome in Trabzon was found visually. This was not difficult for the pilots.

Giorgi Chakhrakia - We made a circle and launched green rockets, making it clear to free the strip. We entered from the side of the mountains and sat down so that, should something happen, land on the sea. We were immediately cordoned off. The co-pilot opened the front doors and the Turks entered. In the cockpit, the bandits surrendered. All this time, until the locals showed up, we were at gunpoint … Leaving the cabin after the passengers, the senior bandit knocked on the car with his fist: “This plane is now ours!” The Turks provided all the crew members with medical assistance. They immediately offered those wishing to stay in Turkey, but none of the 49 Soviet citizens agreed. The next day, all the passengers and the body of Nadia Kurchenko were taken to the Soviet Union. A little later, the stolen An-24 was overtaken.

For courage and heroism, Nadezhda Kurchenko was awarded the military order of the Red Banner, a passenger plane, an asteroid, schools, streets and so on were named after Nadia. But it should be said, apparently, about something else: the scale of state and public action associated with the unprecedented event was enormous. Members of the State Commission, the USSR Ministry of Foreign Affairs conducted negotiations with the Turkish authorities for several days in a row without a single break.

It followed: to allocate an air corridor for the return of the hijacked aircraft; an air corridor for transporting injured crew members and passengers in need of urgent medical attention from Trabzon hospitals; of course, and those who did not suffer physically, but ended up in a foreign land not of their own free will; an air corridor was required for a special flight from Trabzon to Sukhumi with Nadia's body. Her mother had already flown to Sukhumi from Udmurtia.

An article about the feat of Nadezhda Kurchenko from the newspaper
An article about the feat of Nadezhda Kurchenko from the newspaper

Nadezhda's mother Henrietta Ivanovna Kurchenko tells: - I immediately asked that Nadia be buried in our Udmurtia. But I was not allowed. They said that from a political point of view, this should not be done.

And for twenty years I went to Sukhumi every year at the expense of the Ministry of Civil Aviation. In 1989, my grandson and I came for the last time, and there the war began. Abkhazians fought with Georgians, and the grave was neglected. We walked to Nadya on foot, we were shooting nearby - everything was … And then I cheekily wrote a letter addressed to Gorbachev: “If you don’t help transport Nadia, I’ll go and hang myself on her grave!” A year later, the daughter was reburied at the city cemetery in Glazov. They wanted to bury it separately, on Kalinin Street, and rename the street in honor of Nadia. But I didn’t allow it. She died for the people. And I want her to lie with people..

One of the telegrams of condolences addressed to the mother of the deceased girl
One of the telegrams of condolences addressed to the mother of the deceased girl

Immediately after the hijacking, scant TASS reports appeared in the USSR: “On October 15, the An-24 civilian air fleet made a regular flight from the city of Batumi to Sukhumi. Two armed bandits, using weapons against the crew of the plane, forced the plane to change its route and land on the territory of Turkey in the city of Trabzon. During a fight with the bandits, a flight attendant of the plane was killed, who was trying to block the bandits' way to the pilot's cabin. Two pilots were injured. The passengers on the plane are unharmed. The Soviet government appealed to the Turkish authorities with a request to extradite the murderer criminals to be brought to the Soviet court, as well as to return the plane and Soviet citizens who were on board the An-24 plane.

The “tassovka” that appeared the next day, October 17, announced that the plane's crew and passengers had been returned to their homeland. True, the navigator of the plane who underwent the operation, who was seriously wounded in the chest, remained in the Trabzon hospital. The names of the hijackers were not named: “As for the two criminals who carried out an armed attack on the crew of the plane, as a result of which the flight attendant N. V. Kurchenko was killed, two crew members and one passenger were wounded, the Turkish government announced that they were arrested and the prosecutor's office was given an instruction to conduct an urgent investigation of the circumstances of the case”.

The return home of the passengers of the ill-fated flight
The return home of the passengers of the ill-fated flight
Memory lesson
Memory lesson

The general public became aware of the personalities of the air pirates only on November 5 after a press conference of the USSR Prosecutor General Rudenko. Brazinskas Pranas Stasio, born in 1924 and Brazinskas Algirdas, born in 1955, Pranas Brazinskas, born in 1924 in the Trakai region of Lithuania.

According to the biography written by Brazinskas in 1949, the "forest brothers" shot through the window the chairman of the council and fatally wounded P. Brazinskas' father who happened to be nearby. With the help of local authorities, P. Brazinskas bought a house in Vievis and in 1952 became the head of the warehouse of household goods of the Vevis cooperative. In 1955, P. Brazinskas was sentenced to 1 year of correctional labor for embezzlement and speculation in building materials. In January 1965, by decision of the Supreme Court, he was again sentenced to 5 years, but in June he was released early. Having divorced his first wife, he left for Central Asia.

He was engaged in speculation (in Lithuania he bought car parts, carpets, silk and linen fabrics and sent them in parcels to Central Asia, for each parcel he made a profit of 400-500 rubles), quickly saved up money. In 1968, he brought his thirteen-year-old son Algirdas to Kokand, and two years later he left his second wife.

On October 7-13, 1970, having visited Vilnius for the last time, P. Brazinskas and his son took their luggage - it is not known where the acquired weapons, accumulated dollars (according to the KGB, more than 6,000 dollars) and flew to the Transcaucasia.


In October 1970, the USSR demanded that Turkey immediately extradite the criminals, but this demand was not met. The Turks decided to judge the hijackers themselves. The Trabzon Court of First Instance did not recognize the attack as deliberate. In his defense, Pranas claimed that they had hijacked the plane in the face of death allegedly threatening him for participating in the “Lithuanian Resistance.” And they sentenced 45-year-old Pranas Brazinskas to eight years in prison, and his 13-year-old son Algirdas to two. In May 1974, his father fell under the amnesty law and Brazinskas Sr.'s imprisonment was replaced with house arrest. In the same year, father and son allegedly escaped from house arrest and turned to the American Embassy in Turkey with a request to grant them political asylum in the United States.

Having received a refusal, the Brazinskas again surrendered into the hands of the Turkish police, where they were kept for another couple of weeks and … finally released. Then they flew to Canada via Italy and Venezuela. During a stopover in New York, the Brazinskas got off the plane and were 'detained' by the US Migration and Naturalization Service. They were never granted the status of political refugees, but to begin with, they were provided with a residence permit, and in 1983 both were given American passports. Algirdas officially became Albert Victor White, and Pranas became Frank White.

Henrietta Ivanovna Kurchenko - Seeking to extradite the Brazinskas, I even went to a meeting with Reagan at the American embassy. I was told that they were looking for my father because he lives illegally in the United States. And the son received American citizenship. And he cannot be punished. Nadia was killed in 1970, and the law on the extradition of bandits, wherever they were, was allegedly passed in 1974. And there will be no return … The Brazinskas settled in the town of Santa Monica in California, where they worked as ordinary painters. In America, the Lithuanian community in the Lithuanian community was wary of the Brazinskas, they were openly afraid. An attempt to organize a fundraiser for a fund of their own failed.

In the United States, the Brazinskas wrote a book about their "exploits" in which they tried to justify the hijacking and hijacking of the plane as "a struggle to liberate Lithuania from Soviet occupation." To whitewash himself, P. Brazinskas stated that he had hit the flight attendant by accident, in a "shootout with the crew." Even later, A. Brazinskas claimed that the flight attendant had died during a "shootout with KGB agents" However, the support of the Brazinskas by Lithuanian organizations gradually faded away, everyone forgot about them. Real life in the United States was very different from what they expected. The criminals lived miserably, under old age Brazinskas Sr. became irritable and unbearable.

In early February 2002, the 911 call in Santa Monica, California rang. The caller hung up immediately. The police identified the address they were calling from and arrived at 900 21st Street. Albert Victor White, 46, opened the door for the police and led the lawyers to the cold corpse of his 77-year-old father. On whose head forensic experts later counted eight blows from a dumbbell. In Santa Monica, murder is rare - it was the first violent death in the city that year.

JACK ALEX. Brazinskas Jr.'s lawyer - I am a Lithuanian myself, and I was hired by his wife, Virginia, to defend Albert Victor White. Here in California there is a fairly large Lithuanian diaspora, and you do not think that we, Lithuanians, support the hijacking of the 1970 plane in any way - Pranas was a terrible man, he used to chase the neighbors' children in fits of rage. - Algirdas is normal. and a sane person. At the time of the capture, he was only 15 years old, and he hardly knew what he was doing. He spent his whole life in the shadow of his father's dubious charisma, and now, through his own fault, he will rot in prison. It was a necessary self-defense. The father pointed a pistol at him, threatening to shoot his son if he left him. But Algirdas knocked out his weapon and hit the old man on the head several times. - The jury considered that, having knocked out the pistol, Algirdas could not have killed the old man, since he was very weak. Another thing against Algirdas was the fact that he called the police only a day after the incident - all this time he was next to the corpse. - Algirdas was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 20 years in prison under the article “premeditated murder of the second degree” - I know that this does not sound like a lawyer, but let me express my condolences to Algirdas. When I last saw him, he was terribly depressed. The father terrorized his son as best he could, and when the tyrant finally died, Algirdas, a man in his prime, will rot for many years in prison. Apparently, this is fate …

Nadezhda Vladimirovna Kurchenko (1950-1970) Born on December 29, 1950 in the village of Novo-Poltava in the Klyuchevsky district of the Altai Territory. She graduated from a boarding school in the village of Ponino, Glazovsky district of the Ukrainian Autonomous Soviet Socialist Republic. Since December 1968 she has been a flight attendant of the Sukhumi air squadron. She died on October 15, 1970, trying to prevent terrorists from hijacking an aircraft. In 1970 she was buried in the center of Sukhumi. After 20 years, her grave was transferred to the city cemetery of Glazov. Awarded (posthumously) the Order of the Red Banner. The name of Nadezhda Kurchenko was given to one of the peaks of the Gissar ridge, a tanker of the Russian fleet and a small planet.

Continuing the theme of aviation tragedies - a story about Amari - an unusual cemetery, where instead of gravestones are the tail keels of combat aircraft … Pilots who died during the Soviet era were buried there in Estonia.

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