In 2006, it was the 150th anniversary of the birth of one of the greatest pioneers and ardent advocate of the ideas of aeronautics and aviation in Ukraine KPI Professor Mikola Borisovich Delaunay (1856 - 1931).

Delaunay family has an interesting history. According to legend, the grandfather Mikola Borisovich, Pierre Charles Delaunay, was the nephew of the last commandant of the Bastille. When the rebel Parisians stormed in 1789 the prison the captured commandant was pulled out and executed. Thus he became the first victim of the French Revolution. Pierre Charles himself was a doctor in Napoleon's army, which in 1812 came to Russia, where he was captured. In Moscow he married Smolensk landowner Tukhachevskaya (by the same family came the famous Soviet Marshal M.M. Tukhachevsky), adopted Russian citizenship and became popular in Moscow doctor.

His son, Boris, was also a physician. He fell in love with the Countess Dmitriev-Mamonov with which Leo Tolstoy wrote his Bezukhov Helen in "War and Peace". Love was so strong that he kidnapped his bride. Boris took part in the Russian-Turkish war of 1877-1878, was wounded at Plevna, and died, leaving his family without means of subsistence.

Therefore, future professor in mechanical Mikola Borisovich Delaunay, after study at Moscow University, in 1878 moved to St. Petersburg, where he held various positions, taught at the school.

In 1892 in Novorossiysk (now - Odessa) University Mikola Borisovich defended his master's thesis "Algebraic integrals a rigid body motion around a fixed point." His opponents at the defence was Zhukovsky. And in May 1894 he defended his doctoral thesis on "Transfer turnover and mechanical drawings curves with hinged-lever mechanisms."

From 1895 to 1900 M.B. Delaunay was a professor of agricultural machinery and implements in Novo-Alexander Institute of Agriculture and Forestry in Pulawy, near Warsaw. Here he also taught French.

In 1900 the Warsaw Polytechnic Institute was opened, and M.B. Delaunay moved there full professor (Head of Department) of practical mechanics. In Poland, he met Yu.V.Lomonosov - known expert on steam locomotives. Lomonosov persuaded Mikola Borisovich to move to Kiev.

In KPI Delaunay worked intermittently until 1928 In Polytechnic Institute, he was a professor of physics and head of the Physics Cabinet Kiev Institute of Commerce, and from January 1908 to November 1909 as an assistant professor lectured in Applied Mathematics in the University of Kiev.

In 1896, MB Delaunay learned from M.E. Zhukovsky about glider flights of Otto Lilienthal and began systematic studies of models of gliders. In KPI Delaunay becomes undisputed leader of the student aeronautics group, created in 1909, and soon Mikola Borisovich became one of the founders of Kyiv Aeronautics Society.

In the academic year 1909/1910 in KPI M.B. Delaunay begun to read to students a course of lectures on the basics of Aeronautics, free of charge.

The success of these lectures was so great that the Mikola Borisovich was invited to read them in other universities and cities. And he never refused. Geography of his travels is impressive: Kharkiv, Poltava, Katerinoslav, Berdichev, Uman, Yelisavetgrad, Proskurov, Wilno, Orel. In the KPI movement for the creation of the aeronautic department was started. But it remained on the stage of talking, because the government has not allocated money for it.

In 1908 - 1910, his son Boris (1890 - 1980) was an active follower and supporter M.B. Delaunay. For the money received from his father, he built three gliders and tested them in the park of KPI and near the country home at Motovilovka.

It is occured that the biplane glider number 2 was the most successful, with lightweight (about 20 kg) at the wing area of 15 sqm. m and cost only 20 rubles. He had to make the descent on foot. It can be easily disassembled into three parts, which was convenient for transport and storage. About this glider Boris Delaunay wrote a brochure "The cheap and light glider and methods to fly with it" (Kyiv, 1910). This brochure price of 30 kopecks was distributed throughout the Russian Empire, and has became a popular tool for glider enthusiasts. It was published under the name of his father, because Boris, being the student, felt uncomfortable to put his name.

The main advantage of the flight, according to the author, was his range, but not the height. For glider pilots who started solo flight, Boris Delaunay, remembering the experience of independent flight and inevitable at the same time blows and bruises, has formulated a set of rules: 1) never jump into a ravine; 2) do not jump from a cliff or steep roof; 3) always fly against the wind; 4) does not fly with the wind speed of more than 6 m / s; 5) Before each flight always investigate with the dust, "the quality of the wind" and the velocity of the air and do not start flying, if the wind speed varies in different places.

Boris Delaunay describes the feeling that embrace a person during the flight when you "see the ground, emerging from under your feet, and you are surprised that some unknown force, slowly raises and swings a glider in the air; the glider aviator - as a sailor on the ship; aviator associated with his glider, which gives it support high above the ground in the air. "

Critics have called attention to the richness of the brochure, and ,in particular,on the advantages of the design - the possibility of its disassembling. It was also noted that the author almost the first to formulate a set of rules for using the machine for a safe flight.The last paragraph "debriefing" was especially interesting: "A few years ago a similar glider swing in 10 square meters could be bought in France for 1000 francs (375 rubles). Nowadays (10-ies of twentieth century. - V. T.), being able to get the metal parts from the factory, and of making the device available to the drawings, the apparatus can be half or even more cheaper as the carpenter work is paid much cheaper than in the West. "

The Civil War (1917 - 1921) also affected Delaunay family. Mikola Borisovich lectured before the Red Army; and when Denikin "Whites" came to Kyiv, he was taken to counter-intelligence, and his wife Nadezhda Alexandrovna, who was by conviction monarchist, had by his friends to release her husband.

After the establishment of Soviet power in Ukraine Mikola Borisovich hotly returned to his work. He is a permanent consultant for students aviation enthusiasts, created in KPI Aviation Scientific-Technical Society (ASTS). In 1928 he moved to Leningrad, where he died in 1931.

A few words about the descendants of M.B. Delaunay. His youngest son Alexander was killed during the Civil War, fighting on the side of the Whites. Daughter Natalia was studying in the KPI, and later became a biologist. Middle Mikola Borisovich son - Leo was also a biologist, was in the vortex of the "struggle against Morganism", but he managed to survive. The eldest son - Boris, leaving the aircraft activities, became in 1929 a member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR, he taught at the Moscow University of Lomonosov. Great-grandson - Vadim Borisovich - was a famous figure in the human rights movement (in 1968 on Red Square in Moscow, along with his supporters organized a protest against the Soviet invasion of Czechoslovakia), and then emigrated to France, returning thus to their ancestors. Died in 1983 Circle thus closed. A descendant of the prison commandant became an advocate of the people.

Author: V.V. Tatarchuk, a researcher at the State Polytechnic Museum NTUU"KPI"