Czech pilot repeats pioneer flight
2011 marks one hundred years since Jan Kašpar, a Czech aviation pioneer, made the first long-distance flight from a town in East Bohemia, to the famous Chuchle racetrack near Prague. Kašpar covered the 120 kilometres in a retrofitted single-engine monoplane, bought from Louis Bleriot after the Frenchman’s successful flight over the English Channel. Kašpar’s own journey from Pardubice to Chuchle was itself ambitious and when he arrived he was given a heroes’ welcome. This week, in honour of the original deed, the feat was repeated by another Czech pilot, Petr Mára. Radio Prague’s Jan Velinger has the details.
“I wasn’t cold. It’s quite physically demanding up there so I can even say I broke a sweat. As for the machine, it worked perfectly.”
By contrast, Jan Kašpar – 100 hundred years ago – flew between 100 and 200 metres above ground – but his exact route, because of today’s airspace and city infrastructure, could not be retraced. Otherwise, though, as much as possible it was a copy of the original event. Václav Vondrášek, who built the replica, says the model closely followed the design of the original plane:
The plane did a stronger and also heavier engine - one reason excess fuel had to be siphoned off, even though headwinds were mild. Pilot Petr Mára had been less optimistic ahead of the event, gauging the chances at 50/50: but in the end the flight went off without a hitch. Organisers now hope to repeat the flight on a regular basis – and to reintroduce other classic planes, not just the Bleriot, to Czech skies.