Nadezhda Popova | Soviet female pilot, 91

Posted: July 20, 2013

Nadezhda Popova, 91, a Soviet aviator who became one of the most celebrated of the so-called Night Witches - female military pilots who terrorized the Nazi enemy with their nocturnal air raids during World War II - died July 8, the London Daily Telegraph reported. The place and cause could not immediately be confirmed.

Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych called her life "an example of selfless service to 'the Motherland.' " Her "feats in the course of the Great Patriotic War," he said, "will never be forgotten."

Ms. Popova was among the first female pilots to volunteer for service in the Soviet military during World War II and became a squadron commander in her swashbuckling all-female regiment. She flew 852 combat missions - including 18 in one night - and was honored as a Hero of the Soviet Union, one of the nation's highest decorations.

In 1942, she was shot down in the North Caucasus. Retreating with the infantry, she met her future husband, Semyon Kharlamov, also a decorated pilot. They were married for many years and had a son. Kharlamov died in 1990. - Washington Post

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