In 1953 Leonov enrolled at the Academy of Arts in Riga and his parents expected him to be
a professional artist. However, by 1957 he was qualifying as a paradrop instructor in the Soviet Air Force.
became the first man to walk in space on 18 March 1965. This was a two man mission in Voskhod 2 with Belyayev. His EVA lasted
24 minutes, considerably longer than expected due to problems re-entering the capsule. This flight lasted 1 day 2 hours and
Leonov's last flight was on Soyuz 19, launched 15 July 1975. This was another historic flight as the Soviet
space-craft docked with a NASA space-craft for nearly two days. Leonov shook hands with Tom Stafford in space. This flight
lasted 5 days 22 hours and 31 minutes.
Leonov has had a charmed life, escaping certain death on several occasions. He
was nearly killed when the car he was in left the road and fell through a frozen pond. He rescued both his wife and the driver.
On another occasion, one of the parachute straps was caught on an ejection seat during a parachute jump. He managed to free
it by bending the protruding metal with his hands. The metal later had to be bent back with a hammer. He also survived
an assassination attempt on Brezhnev when the car they were in was sprayed with bullets.
Leonov was chosen as a member
of the prime crew for Soyuz 11, but the entire crew was replaced because of a medical problem with one of the crew. The replacement
crew died on the flight.
Leonov is a very talented artist. He has had several books published and was Deputy Head of the
Yuri Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Centre.