Hero of the Russian Federation, Honored Test Navigator of the USSR, Senior Test Navigator at the Aviation Scientific and Production Complex MiG named after A.I. Mikoyan, Senior Lieutenant in the Reserve, Recipient of the Red Banner of Labor Order and the Friendship of Peoples Order.
Leonid S. Popov was born in 1940 in Kazan. In 1963, he graduated from the Kazan Aviation Institute with a degree in Aircraft Engines. In 1963-1965, L. Popov worked as the leading engineer at the Sokol Aircraft Plant, in 1965-1970 as the leading engineer at the Gromov Flight Research Institute (Zhukovsky, Moscow Region). Since 1966, as a leading engineer of the flying laboratory, he had participated in tests of five modifications of the engines for the MiG-23 fighter aircraft. In 1971, he graduated from the Test Pilot School (Navigation Department). In 1971-1985, Popov was a test navigator, the leader of the test navigator’s squad at the Gromov Flight Research Institute. He also participated in the testing and development of more than 80 types of aircraft and helicopters. While testing new equipment, Leonid Popov spent over 11 thousand hours in airplanes. Nevertheless, it had not been without challenges, for instance, in 1979, during the tests of the MiG-31 supersonic high-altitude interceptor, together with the Hero of the Soviet Union P. Ostapenko, Popov managed to eject.
L.S. Popov also took part in the search and recovery of space capsules; the tests of long-distance navigation systems in the Arctic Circle all the way to the North Pole; low-altitude long-distance cruise missiles, the reusable Buran spacecraft. Since 1985, Popov had worked as a senior test navigator of the MiG Design Bureau. He participated in the first flights and tests of all modifications of the MiG-31 aircraft, as well as in the tests of the MiG-23UB, MiG-25PU, MiG-31, MiG-29UB, MiG-AT. Leonid Popov conducted the complete test cycle of the Zaslon sighting-navigation complex and its modifications. Moreover, together with test pilot Roman Taskaev on a MiG-31 fighter with two air refueling Popov reached the North Pole.
Leonid S. Popov is the author of the “Holy Week” book, dedicated to the test pilots who died at the
Gromov Flight Research Institute in 1970-1982.
On September 20, 1994, by presidential decree, Leonid S. Popov, senior test navigator of the Aviation Scientific and Production Complex MiG, was awarded the title Hero of the Russian Federation with a Golden Star medal for courage and heroism shown during tests of new aviation equipment.