Arts, Culture & Media

Remembering Nadezhda Popova, A Soviet Combat Pilot and WWII 'Night Witch'


A damaged and abandoned Po-2 forced to land in Ukraine, and captured by German troops, 1941. This is the type of plane flown by Nadia Popova.(Photo: Wiki Commons/German National Archives - Bundesarchiv, Bild 169-0112 / CC-BY-SA)

Russia is mourning the loss of one its World War II heroes.

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This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the full interview.

Nadezhda (Nadia) Popova passed away in Moscow on July 8, aged 91.

Popova was awarded numerous medals, including the prestigious "Hero of the Soviet Union."

She was a combat aviator, a bomber pilot who flew over 850 missions. She and her comrades were known by the Germans as the "Night Witches."

By contrast, most US bomber pilots were rotated out of combat if they survived 25 missions.

Amy Goodpaster Strebe met and profiled Popova for her 2009 book, "Flying for Her Country: The American and Soviet Women Military Pilots of World War II."

"It was like meeting a rock-star." says Strebe. "Not only was she an amazing pilot, but such a courageous warrior."

She says Nadia was a pioneer for women, for being able to fly for her country in this capacity.

We also found some video footage to share with you:

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    Nadezhda Popova at an official reception in 2009. (Photo: Wiki Commons/Russian Presidential Press and Information Office)