Frank Joseph Malina, photo: NASA

Today in Mailbox: Rafael Kubelík, Czech legacy in Transcarpathian Ruthenia, Radio Prague's reporting on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine, Radio Prague's monthly listeners' quiz. Listeners/readers quoted: Stephen Hrebenach, Peter B Larsen, Lynda-Marie Hauptmann, Sri Debaki Ranjan Biswas, Hans Verner Lollike, Ranjit Darnal, Mofizur Rahman, Nikita Pugachev, Mary Lou Krenek.

Rafael Kubelík,  photo: YouTube
Hello and welcome to Mailbox, Radio Prague’s monthly programme for your views, questions and comments.

Thank you, as always, for all your feedback, be it via e-mail or on our Facebook page – that’s– where we post the highlights of our daily programme.

Now on to your comments: Stephen Hrebenach from Ohio writes:

“I just finished listening to your two part interview with Martin Kubelik about his famous father. I knew that Rafael Kubelik was an important musical figure in the history of the Czech Republic (Czechoslovakia). But it turns out I knew very little. The interview provided a lot of interesting information and insights into his life and music. Thank you for this. It was wonderful.

“I have the Supraphon live recording of ‘Má vlast’ from the 1990 Prague Spring Festival, and I could always feel the emotion from that concert. But now, knowing even more about Rafael Kubelik, when I listen to that recording, it will have even more meaning to me.”

Peter B Larsen sent us this query:

“At the moment I am in Carpathian. I know it has been part of Czechoslovakia and I have seen a lot of buildings from that period in Uzhgorod and Khust. Could you give me a link or tell me a little bit more about that period in Czechoslovakian history. A special question: Is the airport in Uzhgorod built by the Czechs or is it from the Soviet period? I have visited the ‘government Quater’ in Uzhogorod, and it is easy to see the relations to Prague.”

Transcarpathian Ruthenia was indeed part of Czechoslovakia between 1919 and 1939 with many Czech civil servants working there to help build and develop the region’s infrastructure. Czech artists found inspiration in its rural life and nature, such as the author Ivan Olbracht.

Uzhgorod airport,  photo: VargaA,  CC BY-SA 3.0
The airport in Uzhgorod was built by the Czechoslovaks in the 1920s and was gradually modernized in the following decade. In 1929 Czechoslovak Airlines launched regular flights to Uzhgorod. There is an interesting piece of trivia: The airport is so close to the Slovak border that planes have to use Slovak airspace during take-off and landing.

And staying on the topic of Ukraine – at least geographically, Lynda-Marie Hauptmann from the United States sent us this comment:

“I would like to commend you on your reporting on the ongoing crisis in Ukraine. I wish we could get this kind of clear, concise reporting here in the US. Would it be possible for you to do an article, or even a series of articles analyzing this crisis in depth? Very few here in the West really understand what is happening...

“I hope there can be a peaceful and honorable solution to this crisis. No appeasements, no lingering resentments; but an open, honest solution that allows ALL of the people in Ukraine and Russia feel safe and secure.”

Thank you, Lynda-Marie – we’ll keep reporting on developments. However, the mission of Radio Prague, the International Service of Czech Radio, is to report news, commentaries, interviews and cultural programmes from the Czech Republic, which means we cannot focus of international events unless they have a Czech angle, so to speak. Therefore the extent of Radio Prague’s coverage of happenings outside the Czech Republic is obviously limited.

Thank you for staying in touch with us and for taking part in our monthly quiz. Let’s hear some of your answers to our latest question. This one is from Sri Debaki Ranjan Biswas from India:

Frank Joseph Malina,  photo: NASA
“His name is Dr. Frank Joseph Malina. He was born on 2nd October 1912 in Brenham ,Texas, USA. His father and mother were Czech immigrants from Bohemia. In 1920, after the 1st World War, his father took the family back to Moravia in Czechoslovakia and stayed there for 5 years but again decided to return to the USA in 1925...

“Dr. Malina joined the jet propulsion laboratory, in Pasadena, California, USA in 1944 and remained there up to 1946 as its first director...

“His conscience led him away from working with rockets when he had realized that their applications were primarily for military purposes. After WWII, he grew more uncomfortable with the idea of designing weaponry and finally decided to bid good- bye to the rocket-world. Dr. Malina was a dedicated advocate of the idea for using space only for peaceful purposes. This great Czech personality passed away on 9th November 1981 at his home in Boulogne-sur-Siene, Paris.”

Hans Verner Lollike from Denmark wrote:

“Frank Joseph Malina was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering ... He made a career in building rockets, but was persona-non grata in the USA due to his interest in communism and the workers’ movement. In 1952 he moved to France. Frank Malina died in 1981 in Boulogne Billancour, near Paris, France. His widow Marjorie Duckworth Malina died in 2006. Their sons Roger and Alan Malina live and work in France and Portugal respectively.”

Ranjit Darnal from Nepal wrote:

“He obtained his Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering from the Texas Agricultural and Mechanical University in 1934. He became interested in rocket engineering in the 1930s. Frank Malina was one of the United States’ first rocket engineers. He served as the first Director of JPL (1944 – 1946). From 1947 to 1953 he worked at UNESCO, Paris, as counsellor and head of the Division of Scientific Research. He founded Leonardo, a magazine of the contemporary arts, in 1967–1968 and acted as editor.”

Frank Joseph Malina with WAC Corporal at the White Sands Missile Range,  photo: NASA
Mofizur Rahman from Bangladesh writes:

“The name of the person which you are looking for the month of May 2014 is Frank Joseph Malina who was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, especially known for becoming both a pioneer in the art world and the realm of scientific engineering. He was also a pioneer in the field of jet propulsion.”

This answer is from Nikita Pugachev from Russia:

“In 1935 right after graduation from the California Institute of Technology he was cooperating with the famous professor of aeronautics Theodore von Karman in developing rocket engines. One of their common developments was the famous Bazooka. His father came from Bohemia.”

And finally Mary Lou Krenek from the USA wrote:

“Frank Joseph Malina was an American aeronautical engineer and painter, the son of a Czech immigrant. He was born in Brenhem, Texas not too far from Houston, Texas and close to where I live today. Coming from conservative, rural Brenham, Texas and being educated at Texas A & M University, it is surprising that his political viewpoints leaned towards Communism. He probably adopted these viewpoints when he moved to California to become a graduate student at the California Institute of Technology because his roots are far from this radical thinking.”

“In 1942, Malina along with other colleagues started Aerojet Corporation. Their project, the Wac Corporal sounding rocket was the first US rocket to break the 50 mile altitude mark being the first sounding rocket to reach space. Malina left Aerojet in 1947 because so much rocketry research was devoted to weapons.

“Malina moved to France where he joined the United Nations as Secretariat of UNESCO. In 1951, Malina became head of UNESCO's division of scientific research. After two years, he left to pursue an interest in kinetic art.

“In 1952, Malina was indicted for having failed to list his Communist Party membership on an old security questionnaire for Caltech. He became a fugitive and would be arrested if he returned to the United States.

Photo: NASA
“In 1968, he founded ‘Leonardo’ in Paris, France, a journal that featured articles written by artists on their own work. It focused on the interaction of the contemporary arts with the sciences and new technologies. It is still published as ‘The Leonardo Journal.’

“He died in 1981 in France far from the place of his birth.”

Thank you very much for your answers and this time the Radio Prague prize goes to Sri Debaki Ranjan Biswas from India. Congratulations! For those of you who haven’t been lucky this month, here’s a brand new question.

We are looking for the name of the Austrian author and painter, who was born in 1805 in the village of Horní Planá, now in the Czech Republic, and died in 1868 in the Austrian city of Linz.

Your answers need to reach us by June 11 at the usual address, We are looking forward to your comments as well as reception reports. Mailbox will be back in four weeks’ time. Until then, happy listening and take care.