black holes and gray matter. in one thousand tangos.

             
Nadezhda Popova 1921–2013
Obituary: The ‘night witch’ who bombed the Nazis
“For three years during World War II, Nadezhda Popova terrorized German troops fighting on the Eastern Front. The Soviet pilot was one of the most celebrated members of an elite all-female regiment that flew bombers that had been converted from plywood-and-canvas crop dusters. Flying only in the dark, the pilots would surprise the enemy by shutting down their engines in the final stages of their bombing runs. The Germans heard only a whoosh in the air above them and, likening the sound to a broomstick, called the women “night witches.” Their skill prompted the Germans to spread rumors that Russian women were given special injections that endowed them with cat-like night vision. “This was nonsense, of course,” said Popova, who flew 852 missions in the war, including 18 in a single night, and was named a Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor. “What we did have were clever, educated, very talented girls.” …
The casualty rate was high among the pilots. Popova saw dozens of her female comrades die, and thought that she might have survived the war simply because she was born lucky. “I sometimes stare into the blackness and close my eyes,” Popova said in 2010. ‘I can still imagine myself as a young girl, up there in my little bomber. And I ask myself, ‘Nadia, how did you do it?’”

Nadezhda Popova 1921–2013

Obituary: The ‘night witch’ who bombed the Nazis

For three years during World War II, Nadezhda Popova terrorized German troops fighting on the Eastern Front. The Soviet pilot was one of the most celebrated members of an elite all-female regiment that flew bombers that had been converted from plywood-and-canvas crop dusters. Flying only in the dark, the pilots would surprise the enemy by shutting down their engines in the final stages of their bombing runs. The Germans heard only a whoosh in the air above them and, likening the sound to a broomstick, called the women “night witches.” Their skill prompted the Germans to spread rumors that Russian women were given special injections that endowed them with cat-like night vision. “This was nonsense, of course,” said Popova, who flew 852 missions in the war, including 18 in a single night, and was named a Hero of the Soviet Union, the nation’s highest honor. “What we did have were clever, educated, very talented girls.” …

The casualty rate was high among the pilots. Popova saw dozens of her female comrades die, and thought that she might have survived the war simply because she was born lucky. “I sometimes stare into the blackness and close my eyes,” Popova said in 2010. ‘I can still imagine myself as a young girl, up there in my little bomber. And I ask myself, ‘Nadia, how did you do it?’”

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