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Legendary Soviet WWII Pilot Bigeldinov Dead At 92

  • RFE/RL's Kazakh Service

Talghat Bigeldinov, a legendary Soviet pilot in World War II, has died at the age of 92 in Kazakhstan.

Bigeldinov was the only ethnic Kazakh -- and until his death on November 10 in Almaty, the only surviving veteran -- to have been awarded the gold Hero of the Soviet Union medal twice during the war.

Bigeldinov was born on August 5, 1922, in Pishpek, which is now Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.

Bigeldinov took part in 305 sorties between 1943 and 1945, including flights over Berlin during the last days of the war.

He destroyed seven Nazi warplanes, while his own aircraft was hit once.

A captain at the end of the war, Bigeldinov continued his career as a military pilot and rose to the rank of major general.

He later became a civil aviation pilot.

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