Czech pilots re-enacting historic air race touch down in Brussels

Avia BH 5, photo: CTK

After four days in the air, two replicas of Czech-made Avia BH aeroplanes successfully landed in Belgium on Tuesday. The flight was a re-enactment of a 1923 air race between Prague and Brussels, which was won by Czech pilot Zdenek Lhota. To commemorate the victory, the planes touched down in Belgium on the 75th anniversary of the win. Karel Kasal, one of the members of the ground crew responsible for fuelling the planes along the way, has described the journey over the phone from the Belgian capital:

Avia BH 5,  photo: CTK
“We started at Letňany, which is a grass field north of Prague and it’s reminiscent of many of the fields that were around in the First Republic, or in the 1920s and 1930s. So the two planes, the Avia BH5 and Avia BH1, which were made in 1922 and 1923, looked really at home on the grass. We took off at around 11 and we flew to Tachov in Western Bohemia. That was the first refuelling.

Avia BH 5,  photo: CTK
“We then crossed to Germany and landed in an incredibly beautiful airport. It’s on a hill and there is a medieval castle halfway up the mountain. We stayed there over night and then the next leg of the journey was two other airports in Germany. We left Germany on Monday and we flew to one of the oldest runways in Europe certainly the oldest in Belgium, Zondhofen, and that was the last leg until landing in Brussels were we are now.”

Pilot Milan Mikulecký after the landing in Belgium,  photo: CTK
How did you feel after you finally made it?

“When we came here to see the representatives of the Belgian air-force and representatives of the Belgian Royal family, it was really nice to see the Czech flag on the wings of the BH5 and it made me proud that a little country like ours is able to do such big things.”

Did everything go according to the plan?

“Even the weather was working with us. We only had to go back ones, when we were crossing to Belgium. The planes had to go back because of the fog. But that was the only time when the weather slowed us down.

“One of the things I must say have been wonderful was meeting the flight enthusiast. There is no difference in nationality when you meet a flier or a flight enthusiast. It is like meeting a member of one family.”