Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria

On April 28 (old style) in 1913 the magazine Ogonyok published a photo of a Russian pilot who served in the Bulgarian army and was captured by the Ottoman army. The aircraft were then a wonder, so this illustration raises questions that we will try to answer. And the history of the aviator Nikolai Kostin is very nontrivial.
Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria Kostin, Nikolai, more than war, Russia, army, Milkov, however, Bulgarian, aviator, brandy, Radul, Sevastopol, Bulgaria, Polet, 1912–1913, total, Balkans, single, by plane

In the fall of 1912, the South Slavic states supported the Greek kingdom against the Ottoman Empire. The Balkan alliance (namely, the so-called enemy of Turkey) included Serbia, Bulgaria, Greece and Montenegro. Officially, the purpose of the war was proclaimed to improve the situation of the Macedonian Slavs, in reality, the participants planned to seize and divide the European possessions of the Ottoman Empire.
In Russia, the news of the final attack on the Turks, the centuries-old opponents of Slavism, caused a surge of interest, one of the expressions of which was the volunteers who set off for the Balkans.
Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria Kostin, Nikolai, more than war, Russia, army, Milkov, however, Bulgarian, aviator, brandy, Radul, Sevastopol, Bulgaria, Polet, 1912–1913, total, Balkans, single, by plane

Lunch on the airfield near the town of Mustafa Pasha.Autumn 1912 Sit from left to right:
N.D. Kostin, N.A.Tarasov, A.D.Korovkin, Ya.I.Sedov-Serov, S.S.Shchetinin, Maltsev,
P.V. Evsyukov. Standing: Yu.A.Ozolin, V.V. Dekhterev, A.I.Sokuransky, I.I. Ivanov.
Balkan wars of 1912–1913 open the era of military use of aviation. In the Italian-Turkish war of 1911–1912. the aircraft were used, but it was precisely in the “powder magazine of Europe” that the first serious use of aircraft occurred.
Bulgaria turned out to be the main “aviation state” of the Balkans. Airplanes were partially bought in Russia - in Sevastopol and Moscow - however, according to the testimony of the Bulgarian aviator Radul Milkov, most of them were in a state of disrepair.
This fact was associated with procurement corruption for the Bulgarian army. The flight of one of the vehicles acquired in Sevastopol ended in tragedy, and Hristo Toprakchiev, who was sitting at the helm, was killed in battle. The long martyrology who found death in the sky was open.
Together with the airplanes, Russian pilots arrived in Bulgaria, whose attitude was much warmer than other foreigners. Aviator Sotir Cherkezov later recalled more than half a century: “In the harsh conditions of war, the old fraternal friendship between our and Russian people got even stronger ... In the evenings until late, Russian and Bulgarian songs sang,discussed the comments of our and foreign newspapers on the participation of Bulgarian aviation in the war. ”
Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria Kostin, Nikolai, more than war, Russia, army, Milkov, however, Bulgarian, aviator, brandy, Radul, Sevastopol, Bulgaria, Polet, 1912–1913, total, Balkans, single, by plane

Sotir Cherkezov
In the battle, however, they took part only for a fee. Thus, for remuneration, the pilot Efimov agreed to fly over the besieged fortress of Adrianople (now Edirne) and drop leaflets in Turkish calling for surrender. Representatives of other states flatly refused even to fly close to the front line.
The aviator depicted in the photo - Nikolai Kostin, the participant of the first flight Petersburg-Moscow (performed in the summer of 1912), showed himself more clearly, although an embarrassment. In the team of Russian volunteers, he was considered the most respected and experienced specialist.
In the fall of 1912, the command charged him to overtake the airplane from one location to another. His flight, as follows from the caption to the illustration, ended in failure. But first things first.
Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria Kostin, Nikolai, more than war, Russia, army, Milkov, however, Bulgarian, aviator, brandy, Radul, Sevastopol, Bulgaria, Polet, 1912–1913, total, Balkans, single, by plane

Russian aviator Kostin Nikolai Dmitrievich.
Nikolai Kostin reported what happened as follows. In the aircraft just before departure, several damage were found that had to be urgently fixed.
In this regard, there was a delay, and the airplane took to the air already at the end of daylight hours. At the same time, as the aviator said, he was not given a card or a “passenger soldier”.In the evening mist, complicated by fog, he lost his orientation, and confused besieged Adrianople with the recently taken Semenli. At that moment, the oil tube of his aircraft came off, the engine began to jam, and Nikolai Kostin decided to descend using planning.
Upon landing, to his surprise, he was met by Turkish soldiers, whom the resistance did not make sense. Ottoman authorities initially accused him of espionage, and the prosecutor demanded his execution.
But he was saved by the commandant of the fortress, General Ismail Pasha, who was sitting in the judicial council. He considered himself obliged to Russia, because in his youth, during the Russian-Turkish war, he himself was in captivity, where his treatment was mild.
Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria Kostin, Nikolai, more than war, Russia, army, Milkov, however, Bulgarian, aviator, brandy, Radul, Sevastopol, Bulgaria, Polet, 1912–1913, total, Balkans, single, by plane

Russian volunteer aviator Nikolai Kostin on Farman-VII
However, N. Kostin was fed, according to his testimony, badly, as a result of which he expressed his complaint, "then the soldiers began to catch pigeons and daws, which I ate." After the fall of Adrinanopol in March 1913, the pilot was released along with other prisoners of war, and left the Balkans the last of his fellow volunteers.
A different story was told by a Bulgarian who served with him Radul Milkov.Before the flight, Nikolai Kostin left with. Chermen, where he could not pass by the inn, and there he knocked over four glasses of cognac inside the aviator's body. They could not find him for a long time, because in the flight unit they did not know where to look. As a result, Kostin appeared at the airport, boarded a plane and got lost in the sky, sitting in the rear of the Turkish army. As R. Milkov adds to his story: “To be honest, with four glasses of brandy in the stomach and I would get lost”
Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria Kostin, Nikolai, more than war, Russia, army, Milkov, however, Bulgarian, aviator, brandy, Radul, Sevastopol, Bulgaria, Polet, 1912–1913, total, Balkans, single, by plane

Lieutenant Radul Milkov on Albatros MZ2
What kind of story is true? Most likely, as usual, the truth is in the middle. The Bulgarian pilots were often jealous of their Russian colleagues — they received higher salaries, the service personnel who arrived with them was more qualified, as was the professionalism of the aviators themselves.
On the other hand, Nikolai Kostin could not admit that he, a well-known aeronautical pioneer in Russia, had made a grave mistake due to alcohol abuse.
Accordingly, most likely, both stories took place, though not in such a bright and colorful form.
Confused Russian pilot in Bulgaria Kostin, Nikolai, more than war, Russia, army, Milkov, however, Bulgarian, aviator, brandy, Radul, Sevastopol, Bulgaria, Polet, 1912–1913, total, Balkans, single, by plane

"Romance" of the Balkan War - so had to fly on a plane "Farman-VII".
The observer was not strapped on his gas tank.
In the behavior of Russian volunteers in Bulgaria in 1912-1913. You can find quite a lot of curiosities, but in general, their level of qualification and attitude to the case can only be recognized as extremely high and deserving of respect.

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