The future aeronautical engineer finished the gymnasium in Tver. He entered the Imperial Technical School, known in the Soviet era as MVTU (Moscow Higher Technical School), where he immediately joined the aeronautical workshop headed by Professor Nikolai Yegorovich Zhukovsky and fell in love with aviation for the rest of his life. Later, he would repay his teacher generously – by relocating the Central Aerohydrodynamic Institute they created together from central to the outer Moscow, and later naming the town that developed around the institute after the father of Russian aviation – Zhukovsky.
Now it is obvious to us that aircraft should be made of metal and yet be light, i.e., that they should be built with duraluminium rather than steel. But this was a revolutionary thought back in the early 1920s. It was Tupolev who was responsible for this revolution in Russian aircraft engineering. He led the all-metal aircraft design office and organized the production of the first Soviet aircraft alloy – Duralumin-type alloy. And he built all his famous ANT planes, which were used in all the great flights of the 1930s. But in the year Chkalov and his crew made his legendary flight across the North Pole on an ANT-25, Tupolev was arrested and charged with espionage. Fortunately, the authorities used him efficiently, organizing a special design office for him, which was later called the Tupolev Sharashka. He designed the TU-2 front-line bomber there; other prisoners – his colleagues – nicknamed him Verochka (Little Faith), referring to his faith in his quick release. And they were released – soon after the start of the Great Patriotic War.
Tupolev was rehabilitated in 1955 – the year the first Soviet jet TU-104 started flying. In 1968, the first demonstration flight of the world's first commercial supersonic airliner TU-144 took place. In the meanwhile, there was also TU-95 – the first atomic bomb carrier.
Tupolev's coworkers remember him as an independent and resolute man. Once, he received a categorical order to put a new plane in the air by the next party convention. Tupolev suggested postponing the convention. He was turned down, and when a commission turned up at the airfield, they saw an airframe held in the air by two hovering helicopters. That was a joke of a genius.