“The strong earthquake of 1855 caught Russian frigate Diana off the Japanese coast. A gigantic wave destroyed and drowned the ship. The crew managed to escape. Russian sailors asked for a permission to purchase materials and hire carpenters in order to build a small schooner and come back to Russia. This ship was later donated to Japan as a gesture of thanks. The drawings for building the first keel boat in Japan were made by Russian naval officer Mozhaysky…” Russian naval officer Mozhaysky described in book Sakura Branch by writer Vsevolod Ovchinnikov is famous not for his successful sea cruises and designs. He is known for being the first in Russia to teach airplanes how to fly.
Alexander Mozhaysky studied the structure of birds’ wings, investigated into the work of air propellers, dynamics of the flight, and experimented with kites. He rejected the idea of flapping wings immediately and would build the models of flying machines with the wings which were motionless as relating to the body. The models would fly successfully. However, the Military Ministry considered his experiments too expensive and ill-timed, while the amount of slightly over 18,000 rubles requested by the inventor left the special commission shocked. After that, Mozhaysky started financing his projects himself having sold his land estates, household items and personal things up to wedding rings and silverware. By the way, serious aid was rendered to the inventor by famous General Mikhail Skobelev, hero of the Russian-Turkish War.
In 1881, Captain 1st rank Mozhayskay obtained the paten for a flying machine, which was the first in Russia. In the same year, he started building an aircraft with two steam engines. The engines turned out to be of low capacity, and the first flight ended in a failure. Mozhaysky continued his aeronautic experiments, but soon ran out of money completely. However, the inventor himself had a chance to take off once. Yet it was not a flight on board an aircraft. A tow rope was tied to a cart drawn by three horses. The horses started running, and the kite designed by Mozhaysky rose into the air carrying the inventor who was holding onto a special fitting.