Lidiya Litvyak. This exceptional woman has inspired me in many ways, her determination and courage will lead you to become a better version of yourself, I’m sure.
A “Fighter Ace” is a military pilot credited with shooting down five or more enemy planes. In the history of combat aviation, there have been only two women who have reached this category. Both were Russian and fought together in World War II. One of them was Lidiya Litvyak, better known as the “White Rose of Stalingrad”.
She was born in Moscow in 1916 and became interested in aviation at an early age. At the age of fourteen, she was already a member of a flying club. She performed her first solo flight at 15 (Yes, 15!! OMG)
After the German attack on the Soviet Union in June 1941, Litvyak tried to join a military aviation unit (she had to lie about her experience to be able to fight).
Lidiya began to take part in combat missions in summer of 1942 and soon began to stand out because of her aggressive form of flying.
Her companions saw her as a child. She used to decorate the cabin of her airplane with flowers and made scarves with the cloth of the parachutes.
Her short stature also brought her some problems, and her mechanic had to adapt the planes in which she flew because she couldn’t reach the control pedals.
In spite of this, she soon gained the respect of her companions and the fear of her enemies.
Lidiya liked to be called Lilya. She painted a white lily on the side of her plane. From the distance, some thought they saw a white rose and hence their nickname was the “White Rose of Stalingrad”.
During her military career, she managed to knock down twelve aircraft in solo missions and four in joint missions in a total of sixty-six missions.
On 1 August 1943, a group of German fighters sighted the lily of Lidiya and launched into the attack. She managed to knock down two of them before being riddled in the air and falling with her plane.
Lidiya was only 21 years old.
Lidiya was declared missing in combat and her corpse did not appear. In those years Stalin’s government considered all the disappeared in combat as traitors (since he assumed that those who disappeared were because they had deserted). This fact made that Lidiya was not declared Heroine of War of the USSR.
This injustice led the mechanic of Lidiya to seek the body for 36 years. In 1979 she finally managed to locate her body.
On May 6, 1990, when the USSR was about to dissolve, Mikhail Gorbachev awarded Litvyak Heroine Gold Star of the Soviet Union.