Exhibition on Czechoslovak RAF pilots and the movie Sky Riders

'Sky Riders', photo: www.muzeumprahy.cz

The 1960s Czech movie Sky Riders, the story of the lives, loves and deaths of Czech and Slovak pilots in the Second World War, became a legend. The movie was based on a book of the same name by Filip Jansky and was directed by Filip Polak 36 years ago. Now this movie is the focal point of an exhibition dedicated to Czechoslovak pilots who flew for Britain's Royal Air Force during the war.

'Sky Riders',  photo: www.muzeumprahy.cz
The exhibition started yesterday evening and will last until the 31st of October in the Prague City Museum. It looks at the pilots themselves and at those who were involved in making the film in 1968. After the Soviet invasion of August that year, the film was locked away by the censors, until the fall of communism 21 years later. The exhibition was put together by Filip Prochazka a big fan of the movie which he has seen 32 times. He talks about what inspired him.

"I am a very big fan of this man, this book and the movie. It is forty years since the book Sky Riders was written. I have met some famous sky riders and they have very interesting lives. I hope that people will be interested in the exhibition because of course an exhibition without visitors is not a good exhibition."

The first part of the exhibition monitors the life of Filip Jansky, whose real name was Richard Husmann. He wrote the book that inspired the film. As a former wartime pilot himself he used his and others' personal memories to write the Sky Riders. Over the years the book has been published six times in the Czech Republic and four times abroad. Like so many who had fought in Britain, Husmann had great difficulties with the communist regime after the war, right up to when he died in 1988. For decades he was not allowed to fly.

'Sky Riders',  photo: www.muzeumprahy.cz
"The second part of the exhibition are photos from making the movie Sky Riders and the original photos from the Second World War. When the movie was prepared authors asked many Czech veterans for help and used photos as an inspiration when they prepared uniforms and props."

The uniforms and personal belongings on show come from the Czech Film Studio, Barrandov, also from widows of Czech pilots and from Filip Prochazka himself. He has contacted fifty veterans and their relatives to invite them to the exhibition.

"It is possible that these fifty are the only veterans who are still alive. Some of them called me to say that they were very sorry but could not come because they were ill but many said that they were looking forward to the exhibition, as well as to meeting their friends."

The cherry on the cake will be the showing of the movie Sky Riders in the Hotel DUO in Prague this Saturday at 2pm. It will be followed by discussion with guests - the actors Jiri Bednar, Svatopluk Matias who stared in the movie, the widows of the author of the book and the director of the movie, the main architect of the movie, Karel Cerny - who later won an Oscar for the film Amadeus - and of course also the former Czech pilots themselves.