The man, named in honor of our school


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The man, named in honor of our school

Rimantas Antanas Stankevicius was born in Marijampole, 1944 July 26.

In 1962 he finished Marijampole Secondary School No.2 and enetered Chernigov higher Aviation School and graduated in 1966. Then he served as a pilot. since 1970 he served as a senior pilot and since 1972 he was a fighter aviation regiment commander in Mary, Turkmenistan.

In 1971 - 1972 he was a senior pilot of particular aviation platoon in Egypt, the Arab Republic, where USSR army was deployed. He participated in hostilities against Israel.

In 1973 he was demobilized. He was awarded with the USSR Air Force major degree.

In 1975 he graduated from the USSR Aviation Research Institute of the Ministry of Flight Test Pilot School and worked as a test pilot in the same centre. He performed the highest complexity test flights. He accomplished spin testing of the fighter MiG – 29 .

He flew by 57 types of aircrafts and had over 400 hours of flying experience. In 1957 he was graded as the 4th class, in 1976 – as the 3rd class, in 1979 –as the 2nd class, in 1982 – as the 1st class test pilot .

In 1977 July 12, Rimantas Stankevicius was assigned to the special training group to fly the shuutle ‘Buran‘ by the Aviation Research Institute principal‘s order No. 360. In 1979 January 19, the Chief Medical Commision approved his suitability to spaceflights.

In 1979 February 1, he was assigned to the main group to prepare for the 11F35 (‚Buran‘) by the Avation Minister‘s order No.34 . Since 1979 April until 1980 December he studied general space program at Jurijus Gagarinas Cosmonaut Training Center. in 1980 July 30, he was recommended to the cosmonaut- researcher team (the team number was not specified). In 1981 August 10, he was included into the cosmonaut experimenter team of Aviation Research Institute by the Institute principal‘s order. In 1982 February 12, he passed all general space program‘s credits and became the cosmonaut experimenter. He was the first Lithuanian cosmonaut. Rimantas Stankevicius was prepared to fly to the space.

Since 1982 September until 1983 May Rimantas Stankevicius together withViktoras Viktorenka and Vitalijus Sevastjanovas prepared for the spaceflight as a reserve crew member, but when the flight was changed into the programme OS ‘Saliut -7‘, Rimantas Stankevicius was cancelled frome the crew.

In 1984 September he trained to fly to the space by the shuttle ‘Buran‘ and learned to handle and use automatically. He flew the planes – laboratories Tu 154 and MiG – 25, where Buran‘s control systems were equipped.

It was planned Rimantas Stankevicius had to fly for the the first ‘Buran‘s‘ flight as the second pilot of the main crew. He had to fly together with the cosmonaut Igor Volkov who was the the crew‘s commander. However, the other departament – Scientific Production Association ‘Energy‘ thought board‘s engineers would be more useful than second pilots, so they planned and trained him as the ‘Buran‘s commander. together with the cosmonaut A.Balandinas, and since 1988 – with V. Zabolotskas.

Rimantas made six rolling tests and 14 flights by the special space shuttle ‘Buran‘s copy OK – GLI (the plane – analogue BTS -02).   He was the crew commander and the second pilot at the same time. In 1987 February, he was assigned a cosmonaut commander of Communication flight Institute. In 1988 after the colleague Anatolijus Levcenka‘s death he became a deputy chief of the Cosmonaut Experimenter Department.

In 1989 February he together with Viktoras Afanasjevas and Vitalijus Sevastjanovas prepared for the spaceflight to the orbital station ‘Mir‘, but maintenance plans of ‘Mir‘ were changed, so in1989 September preparation was cancelled temporarily( it will no be resumed later).

In 1989 September Rimantas was granted a USSR test pilot.

In 1990 Rimantas Stankevicius participated in the annual festival in Everett (the USA) and flew the plane Su – 27. Soon after his return from the USA, he went to participate in the Aircraft Show in Salgareda airfield, Trevisa province, Italy. In 1990 September 9, he performed everyday demonstration flight by the fighter Su – 27. Rimantas started a loop at its highest point doing vertical pilotage figure. This point was in a lower altitude. He almost levelled the plane to the ground, but was not able t-o stop its descent - the experienced pilot‘s hand couldn‘t control the plane weight. The plane touched the ground and exploded. The life of the only and great Lithuanian cosmonaut was taken in disaster.

Rimantas Stankevicius is buried in Kaunas, and a memorial monument is in Zukovskis‘ town cemetery.