Despite the fact that 49-year-old Svetlana specializes in pharmacy, she started flying at the age of 19 when she fell in love with her instructor Leonid Solodovnikov who eventually became her husband. Although their marriage ended in tragedy when he died, Svetlana did not abandon her favorite activity, and graduated from the Kaluga aeronautical technical school in 1995. Prior to graduation, in 1991 she became a member of the Russian national aerobatic team, and started winning gold medals at various championships.
Seven-time World Champion, two-time Absolute Champion at the World Air Games, three-time Absolute European Champion – all describe Svetlana Kapanina. In 1997 she received the Paul Tissandier Diploma from the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI); for her outstanding achievements she received other prestigious awards in 2005 – the Sabiha Gökçen Medal and the Centenary Medal by the FAI. In addition, the best female pilot was solemnly awarded Russia’s Order of Courage by President Vladimir Putin in December 2014.
Svetlana is now happily married to Vladimir Stepanov, an honored karate coach, and has two children with her second husband.