Departed from Spilve, Riga. His flight routine involved keeping the throttle eased back to save wear on the engine, then every hour he
would inject some oil into the system, and periodically pump fuel from the larger holding tank into the small supply tank.
He flies over Lithuania and enters Gemany over Tilsit (today called "Sovetsk"). He continues onwards and, after a total flight
time of 3 hours and 50 minutes lands at Danzig.
After refuelling he continues on to Berlin. En route, he flies over the spot where Pulins' attempted flight to Gambia crashed. Two
hours later, as darkness begins to set in, Cukurs lands at Tempelhof aerodrome in Berlin.
August 29, 1933 (Berlin)
Cukurs intended to continue on his journey, but learned that he would need third party liability insurance and a German-approved
flight plan to fly in Germany, so the day was spent making those arrangements.
August 30, 1933 (Berlin - Frankfurt - Paris)
Departed from Berlin in the morning, flew past Leipzig, then over Erfurt, eventually landing at Frankfurt to rest and refuel. The
530 km to Paris were complicated as he had to avoid various french forbidden airspaces. Cukurs arrives over Paris in a thick
fog, and nearly collides with another aircraft while searching for Le Bourget. Eventually, he lands without further incident.
Cukurs remains in Paris. After he landed, his plane drew a great deal of attention. When the Reno engine manufacturer learned
that the C.3 is powered by one of their 1916 model engines, they are so impressed that they perform a complete engine overhaul at
no charge. He also receives a sponsorship gift of 500 francs from latvians living in Paris and a good quality parachute is loaned
to him by the french manufacturer.
September 14, 1933 (Paris - Poitiers)
Departed from Paris, flew past Orleans and Loire. Deciding to set down at Poitiers (to relieve leg cramps) he comes under
fire from what appears to be a French AA battery. Later, he learns that when he diverted to Poitiers he inadvertently overflew an
artillery practice range and was flying through the trajectory of the shells. He found the airfield at Poitiers and is immediately
surrounded by curious french military personnel. They report that the weather over Bordeaux is terrible and he cannot continue
his flight until it clears. The officers immediately make him their guest for the night and take him into town to ceremonially dress him
in the flight clothes of a french aviator.
Cukurs departs for Bordeaux and, although he encounters poor weather en route, he finds clear skies over Bordeaux and alights
at the aerodrome, about 10 km from the city. After refuelling, he continues to Toulouse without incident. He refuels and, as things
are going so well he sets off across the Pyrenees for Perpignan. As far as Carcassonne the flight is calm, but then he begins the
climb over the mountains. With a strong wing from the north tossing the airplane and the sun setting quickly, he finds
Perpignan and lands safely.
The day is spent obtaining a Spanish visa and doing minor maintenance upon the aircraft.
September 17, 1933 (Perpignan - Perpignan)
Leaves for Barcelona, but finds a solid wall of fog over the city and is forced to fly the 200 km back to Perpignan.
September 18, 1933 (Perpignan - Barcelona)
The next morning, Cukurs sets out again for Barcelona. About 60 km from Barcelona, without warning, his engine loses one
cylinder, then immediately another. With two cylinders out he can barely maintain altitude while he searches for a landing spot,
but when a third cylinder dies a few minutes later, he starts coming down. He is too low to use the parachute, so he has to
prepare for a forced landing in very rough territory. He selects a dry river bed, shuts off the engine, and sets down fairly well, the
aircraft almost rolling to a stop before the wheels fall into a rut and the plane flips onto its back.
Cukurs is unhurt, but trapped in the cockpit with gasoline leaking all around him. The ground is too hard to permit digging his way out,
and he soon passes out from the fumes in such an enclosed space. A few moments later he is pulled from the airplane by
a Spanish rifleman who had seen him crash.
After clearing his head, Cukurs inspects the airplane. It appears that the damage is surprisingly minor - the propeller, wings and
rudder are basically undamaged. The fairing behind the cockpit is flattened, the windshield is smashed, the engine cover is damaged, and
one undercarriage leg is bent. All in all, he is pleased that the damage was so light.
The locals report that there is no flat, open space within miles that would be suitable for a takeoff, so the airplane has to be broken
down into its larger elements and taken by truck to Barcelona.
The plane is taken to Barcelona that very same afternoon. Cukurs admits that, as his finances are very limited, he will have to do
the repairs himself.
The Spanish press, writing about the incident, reported (incorrectly) that Cukurs had named his aircraft the "Duchess of Courland"
(Kurzemes Hercogiene). Cukurs had not named his airplane, but thought the name was a suggestion worth considering.
Cukurs remains in Barcelona for a number of days, repairing the aircraft and waiting for the weather to clear.
After a flight of 2 hours, 45 minutes Cukurs lands safely at Valencia's new aerodrome. The engine continued to lose a cylinder
occasionally, but improved with altitude.
October 1, 1933 (Valencia - Alicante)
Cukurs departs Valencia for Alicante, a distance of approximately 180 km. The engine made a strange rattling noise, and he had
to dive through the cloud cover to find the aerodrome, but he landed safely at Alicante.
October 2 - 20, 1933 (Alicante)
On October 2 Cukurs departs for Casablance, but after only a short while the engine began to clatter so badly that it had to be shut
off. He found himself with no place to land, and too far from Alicante to glide back to the aerodrome. He tried to return in the
direction of Alicante, perhaps hoping for a miracle wind to aid him, but he had to land in a vineyard a few km from town. To
everyone's surprise the aircraft emerged undamaged, but the original problem with the engine was clearly going to require major repairs.
The Spanish aviation mechanics dedicated themselves to the repair of Cukurs' engine - all at no cost. One Air France mechanic,
Raul Romme, especially earned Cukurs' gratitude and friendship, working day and night for over two weeks to get the engine running
reliably once again.
After an emotional farewell, Cukurs continues his journey. The flight to Malaga is extremely turbulent, with unpredictable
winds where the hills come down to the sea, but eventually he lands safely at the aerodrome, about 10 km from the town.
October 22, 1933 (Malaga - Tangiers)
Early in the morning, Cukurs departs for Africa. He crosses at Gibraltar and lands at Tangiers without incident.
October 23, 1933 (Tangiers - Casablanca)
Cukurs departed Tangiers at noon, and was glad to be flying over open land instead of the cliffs and orchards of Spain. He
overflew Rabat and, after a flight totalling two hours and forty-five minutes, he landed at Casablanca.
Cukurs had intended to leave Casablanca the very next day, but poor weather conditions prevented his departure.
October 25, 1933 (Casablanca - Cape Juby)
The next leg of the journey is particularly hazardous. One has to fly at low altitude, below 200 metres, because above that
height the headwind is too strong. At times a heavy fog comes in from the ocean and clings to the ground, making emergency
landings especially challenging. Finally, the local natives are actively hostile, shooting at any aircraft which passes nearby and
killing aviators unfortunate enough to land among them. With Cukurs' tempermental engine this portion of the journey required
After a few minutes of flight he set out across the desert known as "Rio de Oro", heading for Cape Juby in southern Morocco, due
east of the Canary Islands. He landed there safely after a flight of four hours, twenty minutes.
No sooner had Cukurs landed at Cape Juby than the the authorities confiscated his camera. After a visit to the Governor his
camera was returned, but all the film from the past few days had been overexposed and ruined.
The next morning brings strong winds from the south. The next leg of the journey takes him across 600 km of desert - with
such a headwind he cannot carry enough fuel to make the crossing, so he has to wait for the winds to shift.
October 30, 1933 (Cape Juby - Villa Cisneros - Port Etienne)
Cukurs departs Cape Juby for Villa Cisneros. He makes a nervous flight over empty desert and occasionally overflies armed
natives, but three hours and forty minutes later he lands safely.
After refuelling at Villa Cisneros, and sharing a lunch with the local Governor, he sets out for Port Etienne. Two and a half
hours later he arrives, safely, at Port Etienne (today known as "Nouadhibou", Mauritania). His day's flights across the desert totalled 930 km.
Departs from Pt.Etienne and flies towards his first waypoint - Nouakshott, Mauritania. Three and a half hours later he overflies
Nouakshott, circles it once, and continues on to Saint Louis, Senegal. After a total of five hours flight time he finds himself over Saint Louis but
the entire area is so extensively flooded that he has difficulty finding the aerodrome. Finally, he spots a small hangar with a
windsock and lands safely on the small patch of dry ground.
Cukurs spends a day in Saint Louis, where he participates in a lion hunt. He did not manage to shoot any game, but enjoyed the
leisure day after the stressful flight of the day before.
November 2, 1933 (Saint Louis - Dakar)
Cukurs departs for Dakar. The rules and regulations in Dakar are quite strict - his approach by air must follow a precise route and,
once he has landed, he is advised that he may not take photographs. The ground at Dakar aerodrome was very hard and he broke
his tailskid, which was repaired without difficulty. He visits the British consul to obtain the neccessary visas
for entry into Gambia. Here he is advised that Bathurst, Gambia does not have an aerodrome. The Air France officials, however,
believe that an aerodrome does exist. Nobody seems to know for certain, but he decides to take his chances the next day.
November 3, 1933 (Dakar - Bathurst)
The Big Day - Cukurs departs Dakar for Bathurst, Gambia (hoping he will find a place to land safely). With a very tempermental
engine he manages to complete the 200 km to Bathurst and, after some searching, he finds a tine airfield on Cape St.Mary, about
13 km from town, and sets down in Gambia.
Cukurs, delighted to have arrived safely in Gambia, awaits the money which is being transferred from General Bangerskis in Latvia.
In the meantime, he is practically penniless, but spends the time sightseeing and becoming acquainted with the native culture.
Interestingly, as he treats the Gambian natives as equals, he annoys the local British authorities who hold the native peoples in
very low regard. His relationship with the British continues to deteriorate and, when the aerodrome tries to outrageously overcharge
him for the "storage" of his aeroplane, he has to appeal to those same authorities to intercede on his behalf. They negotiate a
much reduced rate for the days already stayed, but the deal also requires that he must depart at once, which he does.
November 9 1933 (Bathurst - Dakar)
Cukurs flies back to Dakar, where he finds accommodation for his aircraft and makes arrangements for a new engine
and parts to upgrade the aircraft for the return journey.
November 10, 1933 - Feb 7 1934 (Dakar)
The money for the rebuild had to be raised in Latvia, then the engine ordered
from England, and everything took over a month to arrive by ship. Clearly, he was going to spend
the winter in Africa, so he spent the first few weeks sightseening and travelling among the natives. On December 12th
the ship carrying the new engine arrived in port, and from then onwards he was obsessed with getting the aircraft ready for his
return flight. On January 30, 1934 he took the refurbished airplane for its first (and successful) test flight.
Early on the morning of February 8 Cukurs began the long return journey to Latvia. He had some very emotional
goodbyes at the aerodrome, as all the mechanics and other supporters who had befriended him appeared before the
light of dawn to wish him well.
After taking off he flew westward, passing over Tisa, Kombola and Dirubela. 3 hours and 15 minutes later he landed
at Tambakunda aerodrome to refuel. He was frustrated to learn that the fuel he had ordered had not yet arrived, and
he had to remain overnight, arranging to borrow some of the military fuel against his own supply, which was en route.
The new engine operated well, but was experiencing a great deal of oil loss. He and the other local mechanics searched for
the cause of the problem, but could find nothing at all. Also, his propeller was too large in diameter for this engine's
optimum revolutions, and he was forced to reduce his revolutions and fly with less power than would be ideal.
February 9, 1934 (Tambakunda - Kayes - Bamaco)
After fuelling up, and topping up the oil, Cukurs leaves at dawn. He has to make an unscheduled stop at Kayes to
add more oil, but otherwise the engine is operating flawlessly. He has breakfast with the local officials, and then is
off again. The takeoff from Kayes was very difficult. The heavily loaded aircraft barely cleared the obstacles at the
foot of the runway. but otherwise his flight to Bamaco was uneventful. Bamaco is the southernmost point in Cukurs journey -
from here onwards he will be flying north and east.
February 10, 1934 (Bamaco - Mopti)
Cukurs took off early in the morning and headed towards Mopti. He flew past Kulikora (on the Niger) and Segu, but
could not find Mopti. Later, he learned that he had been circling over another small settlement which did not even
appear on his maps. He could find no clearing large enough to permit landing and, on a final hunch, he searched further
upriver. Here, with scarcely any oil left in the aeroplane, he found Mopti and landed safely on their aerodrome.
Rather than continuing further, he spent the day in Mopti unsuccessfully searching for the source of his oil leak.
With oil and fuel replenished, Cukurs set out for Gao, about 610 km away. He is greatly concerned because for most of
the trip he will be flying over territory which Cukurs believes is still inhabited by cannibals.
En route, he passes over Hombori where there is an emergency airstrip. He continues towards Gao, but realizes that his
oil consumption is so high that, if he tried to make it to Gao, his engine would seize up long before he could complete the
trip. Reluctantly, he turns back and lands at the Hombori airstrip, where he is met by a great many natives. He meets
the tribal chief who reassures him that he is safe with them and they send a message to Gao advising that he needs more
oil. The chief takes good care of Cukurs and both the aviator and his aircraft are properly guarded throughout the night.
February12, 1934 (Hombori - Gao)
In the morning Captain Marie, a famous french military aviator, arrives with the oil. The aircraft is readied for flight, but they
wait until about 3 pm before taking off, waiting for calmer weather. They depart as scheduled, and Cukurs flies in formation
with Marie's Potez until they land safely at Gao.
February 12 - 26, 1934 (Gao)
With French air force mechanics available to help him, Cukurs is determined to find the source of the oil leak. They take
the engine apart and compare the assembly with the identical engines in a De Havilland Dragon, also parked at the aerodrome.
As far as they can tell, Cukurs' Gypsy is assembled correctly, but his loses oil at ten times the rate for the Dragon's engines.
They try a number of different changes, but none of them help with the oil loss problem.
The work goes on for two weeks before finally, in frustration, they decide to simply fashion a reserve oil tank permitting him to
carry enough engine oil to accommodate the excessive loss rate. The reserve tank is fitted and Cukurs is ready to continue
Cukurs departs early in the morning on what will be a very long and dangerous flight across the heart of the Sahara. He flies
over Tanbankort oasis (about 200 km from Gao), which is the last outpost before entering the desert. It is too windy to rely on
a compass heading, so Cukurs is entirely dependent upon following a thin road/trail which leads to Bidon V. In places, the wind
has blown sand across the road and buried it from view for as much as 10-20 km, so he is often in danger of losing his lifeline and
becoming lost in the desert. Twice, he does lose sight of the road and has to circle around, but both times he manages to
find it again. After four hours in the air he reaches his first refuelling point - Bidon V.
After quickly refuelling and topping up his oil supply, he takes off for Reggane, about 510 km distant. Here, the road is somewhat
easier to track and he arrives without incident. With all his difficulty, he still manages to set a new record for a flight between
these two locations - 1300 km in 7 hours and 45 minutes.
February 28, 1934 (Reggane - Menourar)
Refuelled once again, Cukurs sets out for Colomb-Bechar (now known as Bechar, Algeria). The journey takes him over a
number of oasis (Adrara, Kerzaza, Igli, Terhita and others) and, until he is nearing Colomb-Bechar his flight is mostly uneventful. However,
at that point he becomes surrounded by a dust storm sweeping in from the north and is forced to turn back towards Menourar, where
there is a military outpost. Quickly, he begins to lose visibility in the dust and he decides to land while he still can. He sets
the aircraft down safely, turns the tail into the wind, plugs all engine intakes and outlets with rags to keep the dust out, and then
drapes himself over the rear fuselage to keep the tail down in the heavy wind. In this manner he rides out the storm which lasts
about 45 minutes.
When the danger has passed, he sets out to walk to Menourar and meets with the officer in charge there. They provide him with
a guard detail to protect him and his aircraft through the night.
March 1, 1934 (Menourar - Colomb-Bechar)
Cukurs flies to Colomb-Bechar. The ground crew there had been careless in placing the wind direction indicator, so Cukurs
inadvertently ended up landing with the wind at his back. This resulted in a very fast ground speed at touchdown and he broke
the tail skid of his airplane. Cukurs was quite angry about the way this carelessness had put his aircraft at risk, but he was
able to repair the damage without difficulty.
Cukurs suffers a severe attack of malaria. For a few days he is totally unable to accomplish anything, confined to his bed
but still unable to sleep. Health care in this small outpost is primitive, but the doctor assigned to the local unit of the French
Foreign Legion comes to care for him. Eventually, he feels strong enough to attempt the next leg of his trip.
March 6, 1934 (Colomb-Bechar - Oran)
The flight to Oran is 740 km - Cukurs departs early in the morning. He flies northwest to Ain Sefra where he considers landing
because he is feeling quite ill. When he arrives over Ain Sefra he decides that the airfield looks so small with such a limited
approach that he will continue to his next waypoint, Meseria. There he finds that the airfield has no windsock or hangar, so he
decides to soldier on to Oran as planned. As he begins to leave the desert behind, his health and mood improve and, by the
time he lands at Oran, he is feeling quite a bit better. Immediately he begins searching for maps for the next day's flight to
Tunis but none can be found for the region past Algiers, so he will have to settle for flying to Algiers in the morning.
March 7, 1934 (Oran - Algiers)
In the morning, Cukurs tries to start his aircraft but finds the spark plugs are again fouled. He has to spend an hour cleaning
them before he can depart for Algiers. He flies over Relizane, Orelansville, Ainreville and Blida before landing at the Algiers
aerodrome, actually found at Maison Blanche, a small town 24 km from Algiers. His total flight time for the day - two hours and
ten minutes, covering a distance of 140 km. He is pleasantly surprised to find a very busy airfield, complete with a mechanic
and representative from the Gypsy motor company. He turns his engine over to them, with instructions to solve the oil loss problem.
The mechanics work on his airplane. It is clear that the piston rings are misshapen, so they order new ones which
will take awhile to arrive. As Cukurs will soon have to fly across the Mediterranean ocean, he is quite willing to
take a few days to get the engine working properly. On March 21 the airplane is ready for a test flight, and it
is a huge disappointment. The engine is losing even more oil than before - about 5 litres per hour. Cukurs is
frustrated and the mechanics are stumped. He decides to fly on, but cannot leave Algiers until March 27 because
of a solid week of heavy rain.
March 27, 1934 (Algiers - Tunis)
Cukurs takes advantage of a break in the rain and flies to Tunis. En route, he passes by Philippeville (present-day
Skikda, Algeria) and he flies around the forbidden zone at Bizerte. He lands at Tunis without incident. It was too
late in the day to start out for Sicily, the next day it rained, and Cukurs had a superstitious rule against making any
difficult flight on the 29th, a day which he felt was unlucky for Latvian aviators. He made sightseeing trips around
Tunis until the weather permitted him to depart on April 2.
April 2, 1934 (Tunis - Palermo)
Although the day is cloudy, Cukurs sets out across the Straits of Sicily. He describes a marvellous flight, with
dramatic layer upon layer of sunlit clouds. After nearly two hours he makes landfall at Marsala, and from there
he proceeds to Palermo where he lands safely on the narrow airstrip. He has to remain in Palermo for a couple of days
while Italian customs and various travel permissions are obtained.
With customs cleared and signed permissions in hand, Cukurs sets out for Rome. As there is poor weather out
over the sea, he flies the shoreline route, along the west coast of Italy. He flies over Naples and examines Vesuvius from
the air, but the weather suddenly turns poor as he approaches Rome and he is forced to return and land at Naples instead.
The next morning, when he is preparing to depart, he finds that the compression on his engine is so poor that he will
have to once again work on cleaning the parts and tightening it up. He finds small metal shavings in the oil, which
is very troubling. He is unable to make it airworthy again until April 7.
April 7, 1934 (Naples - Rome)
It rains all night and most of the morning of April 7, but at about 11 am it clears and Cukurs takes that opportunity to
immediately set out for Rome. Upon landing he discovers that his engine is now losing oil at the rate of nearly seven
litres per hour. He contacts de Havilland and they agree to send out an expert to examine his engine.
April 7- May 8, 1934 (Rome)
The de Havilland engine specialist arrives and examines the engine. He agrees that it was assembled correctly and
is at a loss to explain the oil problem. He agrees that de Havilland will replace the engine and requests that a new
one be sent out. It only arrives on April 30 and it take a week to install the new powerplant.
Cukurs departs for France. While flying up the 'boot' of Italy he passes over Livorno, Pisa, Genoa and Imperia.
After passing Monaco and Nice he turns inland for a direct line to Marseilles because the airspace over Toulon is
restricted. As he flies over Brignoles, only about 70 km east of Marseilles, he runs into some extremely severe
weather. Rather than push on to Marseilles, he is forced to find someplace to land quickly. He settles on a small
military airfield about 25 km to the south, within the restricted zone. When he arrives he finds that most of the
runway has been dug up in a drainage project, but he manages to find a small space and puts his plane down
safely. French ground crew quickly run out and bring his aircraft under cover. He finds he has landed just in time,
the airfield is struck by a ferocious thunderstorm such as he has never seen before. The commander receives him
warmly and, under the circumstances, there are no consequences for his violation of the restricted zone. The
airfield is being used by naval aviators and he stays the night with them.
May 10, 1934 (Brignoles - Marseilles)
After cleaning the spark plugs, Cukurs makes the short flight to Marseilles. From there he intended to continue
on to Paris, but weather reports for the Rhone valley are very poor so he stays in Marseilles for an extra night.
May 11, 1934 (Marseilles - Lyon - Paris)
Cukurs had planned to leave at dawn, but bad weather kept him on the ground until almost mid-day. Finally, he
decides to go anyway, but the conditions continue to be poor. He lands at Lyon to refuel. A number of
french escadrilles were stationed at Lyon and he was met by a commander who used to lead the squadron in
Gao. The commander was quite enthused to see the Gao squadron's insignia painted onto the side of Cukurs plane.
Soon after, Cukurs takes off to continue his flight to Paris. He arrives over Le Bourget airport about two hours later and
is met by a reception committee - many of them the same people who saw him off and wished him well almost
seven months ago on his outward journey. He spends a few days in Paris, enquiring about engines for his next
aircraft build and visiting with these friends who had been following the reports of his journey.
Early in the morning, Cukurs departs for Germany. The air is cold and turbulent, but otherwise not a problem, and
shortly he arrives in Frankfurt to refuel before continuing on to Berlin. However, when he is ready to leave, he is stopped
by a customs officer who demands 600 Marks in customs duties. The aviation control also halt his departure,
demanding to see his papers which, in fact, are waiting for him in Berlin. Eventually, with the help of the consulate,
these issues get sorted out, but by then it is too late to fly to Berlin. Cukurs does, however, decide to fly part of
the pay and as the sun is setting he makes his way to Erfurt, where he stays the night.
May 16, 1934 (Erfurt - Berlin - Konigsberg)
Starting early as usual, Cukurs flies to Halle, then turns north to Dessau and then directly into Berlin itself. He
lands at the airport to refuel and discovers another Latvian expatriate reception committee. Cukurs is pleased to
see them, but he is getting close to home now and is eager to refuel and continue his flight. Shortly, he is in
the air again. He flies past Bervald, where Pulins first flight to Gambia ended, and then over the Polish corridor and
over Danzig, finally landing at Konigsberg. He is now just a single day's flight from home and here, once again, he
is met at the airport by the Latvian General Consul, representatives of the major airlines, and a number of Latvians.
May 17, 1934 (Konigsberg - Liepaja)
The morning is stormy and windy. A gust of wind picks up one of the other aircraft parked on the airfield and
flips it over. Cukurs decides to wait until afternoon to complete his journey. In the afternoon the weather has
calmed and he makes an emotional, but uneventful flight to Liepaja. There, in his home town, he is met by a crowd
of about 7,000 people. He is taken away to the celebrations by automobile, leaving the naval aviation grounds crew to transport
his airplane to one of their hangars. While there are still many banquets and public appearances to come, and
a major reception to be held in Riga, his journey is finally complete.