Great Flight

26. 6. 2019

This year, the joint effort of the Czech Spitfire Club and Promedica resulted in the reconstruction of a historic event from 1938. Both members of the Club and our company worked on the preparation. The event called “The Great Flight” draws attention to the heroism of eight Czechoslovak pilots; the activity is to humble and deeply remind the extraordinary personalities and their legacy that should not be forgotten. There were three reasons for this flight. The first was that our Czech and Slovak history has a number of interesting and important events that are not well known and it is good to inform about them. The second aim was to remind the public of our war fighting pilots as well as the fact that even the mere journey to the RAF was dangerous and harsh. The third reason was the memory of our late Brigadier General Imrich Gablech, holder of the White Lion Order.

The reconstruction focused on repeating the flight paths that these heroes had flown years ago. They took off from the military airport in Piešťany from the territory of the so-called Slovak state. At that time, four military aircrafts with eight airmen started from Piešťany. These soldiers decided not to serve the Nazis, but quite the opposite, to stand up against this monstrous ideology with a weapon in hand.

Despite some problems, they all came to Polish Deblin, where (as it is at present) was a military aviation school. They joined the Polish Air Force and engaged in fighting the Nazis. However, after the fall of Poland, several of them fell into the Red Army’s captivity, after that they spent long years of suffering and misery in the Gulag. Eventually, they all reached the Great Britain, where they served in the British Royal Air Force. Some of them fell in the war, some of them stayed abroad after the war. Those who returned, were exposed to communist persecution after 1948.

On 6th June 2019 the aircraft An-2 took off from Jihlava to Piešťany at 3 pm. After landing in Piešťany, there were films about our airmen screened in the evening. In the morning of 7th June there was a press conference and then a take-off for Poland. The time of the start was set exactly to the minute after 80 years at 12.03, which was the time when the first aircraft took off. The flight led to Cracow.

Unfavourable weather – low clouds, led the pilots to fly on almost the direct route, which was probably the way which the aircraft Ab-101 took. The other three aircrafts S-328s flew eastward. Due to the time reasons they did not land in Cracow, but pilots made a fly over one of Cracow’s airports. The flight to Deblín and landing at the local military base followed. After a tour of the museum, the entire crew – 14 people (including two pilots and a mechanic) – set out for a return trip to Jihlava, where they landed shortly after 8 pm.

Czechoslovak pilots on the fronts of World War II have always belonged among the best. The more is the persecution and ingratitude they received shortly after the war a matter of deep reflection. Czechoslovak history has many interesting events that many people are not aware of and many citizens we can be proud of.