Report from Captain Hynek
More than half of our flight happened over the clouds. It was hard to navigate, to know, over which villages we exactly were, because our maps were quite old and towns, having grown rapidly in the past, were indicated as small on them. So, for example, Woronesch is the largest town in the county. Due to our maps it was a poor little town.
Immediately after launch we went to an altitude of 3000 meters where we stood almost all the time. In no case did we sink below 2500 meters during the whole flight. So we stood out of the rain and snow, which created lots of problems for the other competitors. Our flight happened above the clouds. From the meteorological information we knew, that in our flight direction a cold stream was expected. We had calculated this, so we soon went to this high altitude. If we had flown lower, it would have happened the same to us like to the other competitors. The sight above the clouds was not good. From time to time we met a “window”, so we could see Brzesz, Wysokie Litewskie and Siemiatytsche, where we dropped our first message. The border of the Soviet Union was passed south of Sluzk.
Monday morning after the first night was perfect. The sun was shining, weather was excellent and the flight smooth and fast. Almost no ballast was dropped because it wasn’t necessary. We ate little, everything was frozen and we had not much appetite. Already before midnight we started dumping food, like lemons, apples, tomatoes and canned food. Speed was constantly at an average of 30 kilometres an hour.
An incident happened, when we were discovered by a military plane somewhere between Kursk and Nowgorod Siewierski. We were at an altitude of 3500 meters when the plane sped towards us and circled us for about ten times. Obviously he did not know, for which purpose we were here. He gave us signs to land by approaching us for little more than 100 meters. Sometimes we were afraid, he might shoot at us. We also gave signs, that we did not intend to land and dropped messages telling the reason of our flight. Obviously he had watched this, finally left us alone, landed, probably found the messages and was satisfied.
Our radio worked perfect, so we got frequent information. We learned about the landings of some balloons on Soviet territory and the unfortunate mishaps of the balloon TORUN, who had to land early. We felt sorry for the poor Frenchman, bad luck had generally followed him in Poland, already on the journey there he had been robbed on the train.
Also the second night was quite comfortable. During the night we dropped the rest of our ballast. From sunrise on, the flight again caused no difficulties. As yesterday we needed no ballast till noon. Later it became more difficult, ballast was at its end and therefore we had to land near Anna; this was at 1:40 p.m. Polish or 2: 40 p.m. Russian time.
We had let fly all the eight doves, we had carried with us, but it later proved, that only one of them reached home. Landing was close to some kind of collective farm on a stubble field with 200 meters of dragging. This shows, that there was a strong surface wind, reaching up to 60 kilometres an hour. When dragging, we were shrouded in big clouds of dust. The black earth there was hard and covered with dust, for it had not rained for about six month. Also, the landing became difficult, because we did not manage to open our rip panel at the beginning, for we had not used it since our flight in Canada.
The first person we met was a shepherd with his flock of sheep. Somehow we managed to communicate with him, then Ltd. Pomaski walked back, to collect the lost parts of our equipment. Meanwhile I learned from the shepherd, that we were close to the village of Anna, 100 kilometres away from Woronesch. Gradually also the farmers from the village arrived who gave extraordinary help to us. They helped us collecting our tools, and carried by all the oxygen bottles and the other parts.
When we arrived at the village soviet (Town-council), the chairman of this office, to whom we wanted to present our passports, answered very politely, that this would not be necessary, because he already did know, who we are. Obviously he had already got information about the race and the Gordon Bennett Cup. He, as well as all the others were extremely friendly to us. At once they offered to us to have a bath. Then we were invited for dinner. They made every effort, to offer us everything they could get: eggs, honey, fruit. Breakfast next morning was even more and lunch was so much, that we simply could not eat all up. There was fish, chicken, cake, everything you wished.
So poverty can’t be seen there? “We haven’t felt it” was the diplomatic reply of Ltd. Pomaski.
After we had washed – tells Ltd. Pomaski – I sent a telegram to the aero-club in Warzaw. Then we cared for the certification of our log books, for which we needed three witnesses according to the rules of the race. Then representatives of the Soviet aviation arrived. They had been told of our arrival prior to our landing.
The reason for this was, that we had dropped an oxygen bottle in the area of Woronesch, which was at once carried to the aero-club. So the representatives of the aero-club of Woronesch knew, that we were close by and rushed to meet us, sending ahead a truck for the transportation of the balloon and a car to pick us up. Even the commander of the airfield of Woronesch, General Kutakow, came to meet us. He missed us, because we had already left at 1 p.m. In Woronesch we had a warm welcome by Mr. Kartaszew, representative of the local aero-club. General Kutakow and Mr. Kartaszew cared for us with extreme politeness and friendliness.
In a discussion with representatives of Soviet aviation we expressed our wishes, that Soviet pilots will take part in future challenges and the competition for the Gordon Bennett Cup.
“Having entered the League of Nations now”, we told them, “why don’t you also join the F.A.I. (Federation Aéronautique International), to have the possibility to compete in international challenges. You have everything necessary for that here, good machines and perfect terrain.”
Due to Col. Hynek Soviet Russia has a close net of airfields, especially in the south, in the area of Kiew, Woronesch and in the whole Don area; the terrain there is perfect and empty. Col. Hynek tells, that the chairman of the school for military pilots in Woronesch explained to him: “75 pilots have already finished my school and none of them was able to destroy his plane, they even tried hard, because they didn’t know where or on what.”
Ltd. Pomaski adds: “Not only aviation is developing well, but also the supporting branches, like for example parachuting, which is performed there as a sport by the youth of both sexes.”
At the station in Kiev a representative of the aero club waited for us. In the evening we went to the opera of Kiev, on an invitation by the members of our consulate. The “Faust”-performance was excellent. The spectators made a very intelligent and educated impression, but were dressed very poor. The only, a little negative impression to us was some kind of depressed mood, that could be felt in the theatre. Did the whole trip make us tired? “Not at all”, replied Col. Hynek, “I would go there again right now.”Return to 22nd Coupe Aéronautique Gordon Bennett