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This is the true story about the worlds greatest aviator, Ivan Vasilyevich Smirnov. He was born in Russia on Wednesday 30 January 1895 on a farm near Vladimir, east of Moscow, and he died Sunday 28 October 1956 on the Balearian Island of Majorca, after living his last relaxed years in Cala d'Or (Casa Nikivan) on the east coast.

The name Ivan Vasilyevich Smirnov is a letter by letter conversion from the Cyrillic alphabet to the Roman alphabet. When Ivan lived in Russia his autograph was still 'Smirnov' with Cyrillic letters. Later when he moved to The Netherlands in central Europe, he adopted the 'Smirnoff' way of spelling. This can be seen from several signatures he made in his different passports.

Since he was living in The Netherlands he also adopted the Dutch tradition of spelling his first name: 'Iwan'. Nevertheless, in English litterature he is always called 'Ivan' (his original name).

On his gravestone at Heemstede Cemetery in Holland his name is written 'Iwan Wasiliwitsj Smirnoff'.

Pelican Fokker F-XVIII over Java in 1933

Ivan Smirnoff was an experienced pilot who participated in both WW1 and WW2. But through most of his life he served as a pilot for KLM in The Netherlands.

In 1933 he and his crew went worldfamous when they made their record flight from Amsterdam to Batavia (Jakarta) on Java (Indonesia - formerly the Dutch East Indies) in 4 days each way. The journey took place from 18 December to 22 December and from 26 December to 30 December.

Ivan Vasilyevich Smirnov

In 1938 Ivan (Iwan) Smirnoff wrote his first book 'Smirnoff vertelt' (Smirnoff Tells) about his adventures. He wrote it during the months from January to July, when he lived in Heemstede close to Schiphol Airport at Amsterdam. As he was married to the Danish actress Margot Linnet (2 March 1899 - 3 July 1947) and while they both were famous in Denmark, the book was also published in Danish as 'Smirnoff fortæller'. Even a version in Swedish, titled 'En flygare berätter', was available at the time.

Later, Ivan (Iwan) also wrote 'De toekomst heeft vleugels' (The Future has Wings) which was published in 1947. Unfortunately, none of the books has ever been published in English - at least not to my knowledge.

Luckily the British journalist Anne Robertson Coupar, a friend of Ivan, decided to describe the whole adventure in 'The Smirnoff Story' published in 1960, both in English and Dutch. The Dutch title is 'Iwan Smirnoff, een leven vol avontuur'. Anne had the fortune to become a close friend of Ivan through the last periode of his life on Majorca. She was handed over large amounts of material from Ivan himself before he died.

After his death she contacted Svend Kragh-Jacobsen of the Berlingske Tidende, Copenhagen, for checking facts about Margot Linnet's stage career. Ivan's second wife Mina (Niki) Redwood (born 25 November 1911 in Darlington, New York) now again living in the USA, was contacted as well and she sent more books and illustrated magazines with articles about the great aviator.

This Ivan Smirnoff site has been inspired from the above mentioned books. The given information has been checked and double-checked to be as precise as possible. I am grateful to many people, especially to Hans Krol in Heemstede, Henk van den Os and Dirk de Graaf at Aviodrome, Tom Poederbach and Paul van Weezepoel, author of the KLM web-site'Dutch Aviation'.

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'The Ivan Smirnoff Page' 2007-2018. Updated 12 March 2018,  Finn Helmuth,  oz6li@hotmail.com

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