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A Civilian Doctor in the Soviet Union

Heroes Remember

A Civilian Doctor in the Soviet Union

I retired one day and the next day I was working in the Department of Civilization Medicine as a Senior Consultant doing the same type of job. There was a program that General Eisenhower started when he was the President and it was called the “People to People Program”. And he felt that there was only one way that the people on the other side of the island would get to know each other was if we had exchanges. So, and they went to different countries. And in 1990, there was a group of aviation medical specialists, a group of Americans. I was the only Canadian who went over and I went with them. And this was the first time that the Russians or the Soviets were showing people from the West their space program. So we visited Star City which was just outside Moscow and this is where their cosmonauts trained. And in fact, subsequent to this, American astronauts go and train there and some of our own astronauts go and train there collectively as well with the same facilities. And they showed us their facilities, we visited St. Petersburg, a very historic city and then they took us out to by Baikonur, which is where they send their rockets up into space to this day. At the time Baikonur was not even on the map. It was this big sprawling place in the middle of Kazakhstan where they did all their rocketry, you know, and of course it was forbidden to all of us, you know, so this was the first time that we were seeing that. We got out there, in fact, on Easter Sunday in 1998, we were out in Baikonur and we spent the night in the Cosmonaut hotel, which was where the cosmonauts stay before they go up in space, before and after. So I found that very, very interesting because they showed us all kinds of stuff. We even saw their space shuttle which only flew once, you know, and it was an eye opener for all of us because we had no idea how advanced the Russians were in their space program. And until recently I was the only Canadian who’d been there. I went there before Bob Garneau and all these people. But again I was in Civil Aviation Medicine at the time so I went there and came back and nobody knew that I had been. But that was one of the best assignments of my life.

Dr. Blizzard speaks about his assignment to the Soviet Union after discharge from the Air Force and the fascinating experience he encountered.

Dr. Stephen Blizzard

Dr. Stephen Blizzard was born in Port of Spain, Trinidad in 1928. His father was the principal of a primary school during his childhood. Dr. Blizzard left Trinidad in 1948. He received a scholarship to attend high school and graduated in 1953 from a school in Edinburgh, Scotland. In 1958 he came to Canada. In 1959, he attended university with the Reserve Training Plan in Ontario attending medical school and in 1963 graduated in medicine and chose to intern at the Ottawa Citizen Hospital and resident in surgery at the National Defence Medical Centre. He spent two years as Senior Medical Officer at Rockcliffe base then was posted to Moosejaw where he had medical training and training to fly jets. On December 13, 1968 he obtained his wings. Following this, Dr. Blizzard was posted to the RCAF Institute of Aviation Medicine. Afer returning to Trinidad for six years, Dr. Blizzard then came back to Canada in 1976. With 16 years of military service, Dr. Blizzard continued on his career path and was employed with the Department of Civil Aviation Medicine holding many positions, one being senior official on the aviation medical review board for 12 years. Dr. Blizzard contributes much of his military career training to his success in life.

Meta Data
Veterans Affairs Canada
Person Interviewed:
Dr. Stephen Blizzard
War, Conflict or Mission:
Canadian Armed Forces
Soviet Union
Air Force
Aviation Medicine

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