Grigory Ryzhakov – Russian Writer

Gagarin – 12 April 1961- Following Your Dreams

Jurij Gagarin

Gagarin (image by SAS Scandinavian Airlines ( [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons)

Yuri Gagarin is our pride. But what do we know about him apart from the fact that he was the first man to fly to the space 51 year ago?

What kind of man he was?

Yuri was born in the Soviet Union in 1934. He grew up in a village, which was occupied by Nazi between 1941-1943, and it wasn’t the easy time even for a child. Gagarin remembered how he once saved his little brother from death when a German soldier hung him with a scarf for fun. Yuri’s older siblings were sent to Germany for slave labour until the war was finished. During the occupation, Nazi took his family house, so the family lived in a mud hut for months. Yes, hardship was his friend from the beginning.

After the war Yuri finished school and then left his hometown first to train as a foundry worker and then to become a pilot.

You may call it a great luck to be picked to perform a first ever flight to the orbit of the Earth. Then re-consider.

The legendary flight of the Vostok 1 spaceship was a series of “oopses”; it’s a miracle that Gagarin survived it.

Okay, I’m a molecular biologist not a spacecraft engineer; so forgive me for this clumsy description. After learning all these scary things, my respect for this industry grew immensely. Imagine that –

The radio-controlled system couldn’t switch off the third stage engines of the spacecraft, so when they were finally switched off by a shunt mechanism Vostok 1 was already on the orbit higher than required by a hundred km.

When Vostok 1 started its descent and entered the denser layer of the atmosphere the new problems arrived. The breaking system was faulty and the detachment of the remaining parts of the spaceship from the cabin was delayed. The outer layer of the craft burst in flames and liquid metal streamed across the window’s glass.

After he catapulted and started landing with a parachute, Gagarin was nearly suffocated in his spacesuit because the outer air access failed to switch on in time.

Yuri had finally landed safely and managed to avoid the freezing waters of Volga, thanks to his extensive parachuting experience.

There were allegedly a lot more troubles during that flight, which lasted 108 minutes.  All we know that Gagarin succeeded and became a legend.

He was a man who followed his dreams – what an inspiration to us. So let’s remember Yuri and his gift to mankind at least once a year, on the 12th of April.  Let’s remember that our dreams CAN come true if we persist and stay true to ourselves.


Your brilliant thoughts


  • Roy Eynhallow

    Hello, Grigory!

    Excellent post! I was also going to post something about Gagarin but missed the deadline, unfortunately. He is someone the entire humankind should be proud of. There’s a wonderful legend from the Soviet times about a Moscow priest who had a task from the Communist Party: to deliver a sermon on 12th April in which he would say: There is no God. Gagarin has been to outer space and did not see God. If he refused, they would close his church and send him to preach around the river Amur. So, the day comes, the priest steps towards the altar and says: 

    “Brothers and Sisters! Today is the great day – the 12th of April. On that day Gagarin flew to outer space. He saw no God there. But God saw him, and blessed him with a safe return.” 🙂

    • GrigoryRyzhakov

       thanks for stopping by, Roy! Funny story about God and Gagarin.  I agree Gagarin is a symbol of  human ambition to progress and reach the unreachable. We need more role models like him nowadays,  we have too many showbiz celebs  disorientating the young people. We need to promote real values more in this materialistic world.