Born on the 28th March 1912 Marina Raskova (née Malinina) was to become a famous Soviet navigator.
Having grown up in a middle class family Marina's intentions were to become a musician but she changed her career path after the death of her father in 1919. In 1930, after the birth of her first child, she began work in the Aero Navigation Laboratory of the Air Force Academy as a draftswoman. It was here that she acquired specialist knowledge of navigation and trained to fly, eventually becoming a navigation instructor at the Academy.
Raskova first became notable in 1938 when she was one of three women on a pioneering non-stop flight from Moscow to Komsomolsk–on-Amur in the Far East. The plane was unable to reach its destination and was losing fuel over the Siberian wilderness. In order to keep going and avoid nosing down, it was decided that Marina should bail out and as a result she spent ten days wandering in the taiga. After the remaining pilots landed safely and Marina was picked up, the three women were awarded "Hero of the Soviet Union" stars.
During World War II Raskova used her influence with Joseph Stalin to secure permission for all-female combat units and Raskova herself oversaw the training process. The unit soon gained respect from their enemies and were known as the "Night Witches." Sadly, Marina did not survive the war and died in a plane crash in 1943, but her legacy remains.