Aetherfly 1917. The name of Konstantin Eduardovich Tsiolkovsky, the founder of modern cosmonautics, is widely known to every cultured person. Monuments have been erected to him, museums have been opened, works have been published and republished, and most importantly, spaceships fly according to the formulas he deduced a century ago.
The name of Ivan Fedorovich Korovin is familiar to only a dozen literary scholars, local historians and historiographers of Russian metallurgy. Maybe not even a dozen.
But, nevertheless, Korovin was most of all interested in life in the same thing as Tsiolkovsky – interplanetary communication. But unlike Konstantin Eduardovich, he took a different path. And, perhaps, he went too far … Korovin’s ether
He had been interested in flying to the Moon since childhood, but those were empty dreams – to build a tower forty thousand miles high, a giant catapult or something else like that. He finished his education in France, at the famous Polytechnic Institute, where our compatriots were – just too many. Returning to Russia in 1889, Korovin quickly gained prestige among metallurgists as one of the innovators – and successful innovators!
The industry required new metals and alloys, both for peaceful and military purposes. He developed the “viscous armor of Korovin”, a lamellar shell, which, with a weight of one and a half pounds, covered the entire body of a person and did not miss a bullet from the Mosin three-ruler, fired from a distance of a hundred fathoms. than before.
He introduced into practice duralumin and titanium, silver and gold as industrial metals of a new branch – electrical engineering. But the cherished dream was the creation of an “airborne vehicle”.
If a person found a way to swim in water and in the air, he would certainly find a way to swim in the world ether, he believed (the world ether was formerly called what is now called the cosmos). After the death of his father, one of the wealthy merchants of Moscow, Korovin resigned from the service, liquidated his father’s business, placing, according to his own economic theory, his fortune not only in Russian, but also in French, British and American banks, and devoted his entire life to creating an apparatus capable fly to the moon.
He immediately rejected the jet engine as the main one. “Your calculations are convincing that this is not an engine, but a mot, a glutton, a Samoyed! Nine-tenths of the projectile weight to give to fuel? But it would also be desirable to return from the moon! No, your metal balloon attracts me much more! ” – he writes to Tsiolkovsky (1903, copy, Dorpat archive). There is only one conclusion: to build an interplanetary airship! A shell filled with hot Ether (of course, interplanetary, not chemical) is capable of lifting a hermetic gondola into the stratosphere and higher, to the Moon itself!
But soon Korovin is seized by another idea: magnetic force! Hanging out on the air without a rudder and without sails at truly astronomical distances on an airship now seems unattractive to him. Speed, speed and speed! And the speed of propagation of electromagnetic waves ideally corresponds to interplanetary distances. To catch them and make them blow into their sails! The only question is in the hull and in the canvas.
Above the entrance to his private laboratory, a symbolic attribute appeared – two ring-shaped magnets on a wooden rod, turned towards each other with the same poles. “Here it is, a victory over the force of gravity of the Earth! The only trouble is that we are very new to magnetic energy.
To think that there are only two poles is like thinking that there are only two colors in the world: black and white. No wonder – we are only on the threshold of great discoveries … ”(Korovin to Tsiolkovsky, March 1907, copy, Dorpat archive). Ivan Fedorovich purchases meteorites from all over the world at his own expense, trying to find multi-pole magnets in them.
From 1908 to 1916, he sent expeditions to Kamchatka in order to extract new, as yet unknown metals from geyser salts. Moreover, he is building a mine near Tolbachik! At the same time, Korovin conducts geomagnetic research throughout the Earth, including the coast of Antarctica (partially financing Scott’s expedition), being sure that not only the North and South magnetic poles exist, there are others, as yet unknown.
It is they who can attract and repel devices created from multi-pole magnets. You can also find the poles by indirect methods. It seems that he found one of these poles in the Voronezh province, where he buys the Stepnoy farm near Ostrogozhsk. There he erected both a wonderful mansion (Korovin loved and appreciated comfort) and a workshop for the construction of the apparatus. To melt ore brought from the Kamchatka mine, and perhaps for other purposes, he built an electric furnace.
Electricity was generated by wind power plants of the original design. Of course, their capacity was relatively small, but the production was also experimental, piecemeal. A railway track was laid to the estate, along which goods were delivered every now and then, over the shop sometimes lightning flashed, sometimes thunder rumbled.
The people did not approve of innovations, especially since Korovin took few locals for service, only for the most dreary job. His main cadres are the “labor aristocracy”, highly qualified St. Petersburg and Ural craftsmen, whom he paid mad, by the standards of local inhabitants, money – 200-250 rubles a month, and even more to the best.
During the First World War, the workshop began to work on government orders, won a tender for the supply of “trench shields” – something like portable shelters, but the work on the creation of the apparatus did not stop for a day. The February Revolution forced us to accelerate an already incredible pace. And in August 1917 the apparatus was built!
Korovin sends invitations to friends, acquaintances, just famous people. He realizes that the first flight opens a new era. And on the evening of August 21, everything is ready to start. This is how the Voronezh journalist I. Dragunov describes him (Provincial Vedomosti, August 10 (23), 1917): “The Stepnoye estate, which was turned by the owner into the magnificent palace of Semiramis, was attended by friends and associates of Mr. Korovin, journalists, engineers, among them the most famous writer Count Alexei Tolstoy … Mr. Korovin explains the structure of his apparatus.
It looks like a small airship, however, it is made entirely of metal, the secret of which Mr. Korovin is going to soon transfer to the new Russian state free of charge. This metal is magnetic, but is repelled and attracted to a wide variety of objects and even to emptiness, which, according to Mr. Korovin, is itself a special kind of magnet.
By controlling the magnetic rudders and sails, you can make the device move in the desired direction – up, down, in any of the cardinal points, and no coal, no firewood, no gasoline is required! The apparatus is like a sailboat, for which there is always a tailwind. The idea of the apparatus was suggested to him by his old friend, Mr. Tsiolkovsky (an elderly gentleman with a hearing tube first waves his hands in protest, then bows in embarrassment) …
Inside the device there is a passenger cabin. The size of a comfortable compartment, it contains everything that an ethereal traveler may need: a completely transparent window-porthole, an electric lamp chair-bed, a writing pad with writing utensils (you will have to write with a pencil), hygiene products, a supply of food and drink and, most importantly, air for two weeks. Korovin’s ether
However, Mr. Korovin argues that in interplanetary space in the absence of weight of food, drink and air will be consumed incomparably less than on Earth. The cabin is completely protected from both severe frosts and hellish heat that reign in the sky at the same time! The sun sets below the horizon, but strange – the device continues to glow! This is the property of metal, explains Mr. Korovin, to react with radiation to surrounding magnetic fields. Now he will go on a test flight.
He intends to rise to an unprecedented height – a hundred miles, after which he will return to Earth. “The device requires improvement, and therefore I will go to the moon later, perhaps at the end of autumn,” the inventor promises. He hugs his friends. Photographers sparkle with magnesium … He enters the booth, locks the door from the inside for a long time. The door is arranged like a hatch of an underwater vessel and is tightly pressed to the surface. Suddenly, completely silently, the apparatus rises into the air. Now he is already at a height of ten fathoms, twenty, one hundred … We all shout “hurray” in unison in honor of the pioneer of Ether!
Flowers, hats are flying into the air, the most expansive spectators, taking advantage of the absence of ladies (they remained on the terrace of the estate), tear off their jackets and wave them! The Russian soul is wide! Meanwhile, the vehicle continues to climb. After a quarter of an hour, it becomes a tiny speck. Observation is carried out through telescopes, placed in advance on tripods, and through binoculars.
On the field phone, we get in touch with Mr. Korovin’s assistant, who is five miles from us. He and another assistant, located on the terrace of the estate, check the data and, after performing special calculations, report that the device has reached a height of fifteen miles! World record! But this is only the beginning, the ascent is not over. Spectators are refreshed with strong tea and coffee.
We sit down on canvas chairs, as you know, there is no truth at our feet. I look through field glasses, see a tiny blurry disk and nothing else. Count Tolstoy graciously gives me a seat at the telescope with a hundredfold magnification. I recognize the familiar outlines of the apparatus, it seems to me that the face of Mr. Korovin is visible through the round window. This is probably an optical illusion – according to the assistant, the lifting height exceeded forty versts. I confess, another bottle of champagne was uncorked – success is too important! The height of one hundred versts has been reached! And our Russian Icarus climbs higher and higher!
Finally, by midnight, it rises so high that even the telescope is powerless to find it in the starry sky. We are waiting. We wait until morning. We continue to wait – and hope … ”Alas, the return did not take place. What happened to the device remains unknown. According to some assumptions, Korovin lost control of the imperfect machine and was carried away from the Earth. Some believed that it was a gigantic hoax: Korovin built an extraordinary, but still atmospheric airship, embodying Tsiolkovsky’s idea of ”an all-metal controlled balloon”, and the lift was deliberately overstated by the assistants. Korovin’s ether
Foreseeing the fall of the Provisional Government, Korovin did not plan to return, at least to Russia, otherwise why were the two-week supplies taken on a test flight? But the chances that he flew to America (for some reason they thought he was flying to America; war-torn Europe was no more attractive than Russia at that time), scanty – a person like Korovin was by nature too prominent a figure to lead a quiet life and invisible even in an African village, and even in America …
Most likely, the device fell and crashed in some deserted place due to a technical malfunction or was shot down over the battlefield, mistaken for an enemy balloon. Perhaps he is still resting at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. It is scary to imagine what it was like for Korovin those two weeks, until the air was exhausted and
Aetherfly Korovin 1917. The article was written by Professor Frolov. To contact the author, crawl through the comments.