Events
WHAT: The First "Flight Around Latvia" Contest

WHEN: September 27 - 28, 1936

WHO: Military, Aizsargi and Sports aviators. Among them, N.Bulmanis, R.Celmins, R.Dzenis, T.Gailitis, N.Geizelis, A.Graudins, P.Greizis, R.Gulbis, J.Indans, R.Jenkevics, K.Lesinskis, J.Lindbergs, K.Teikmanis

AIRCRAFT: 2 KOD-1s (one of which was #11), "Kaija", "Ventas Erglis"



DETAILS
  • The contest began in the rain, with four aircraft departing from Riga/Spilve.
  • By the time they had reached their first waypoint (Tukums) the weather had cleared and they were flying in sunshine. The aircraft landed without incident, and found a couple of hundred spectators, many of them young, awaiting their arrival. After a few ceremonial formalities, the aircraft resumed their flight. On takeoff, "Kaija" had a sputtering motor and barely managed to clear the trees at the edge of the airfield, but once it was aloft the engine settled down and operated normally.
  • The next leg of the journey took them over Stende, Lake Usma to Ventspils, where they landed briefly before taking off again and turning to the south.
  • At the familiar airfield in Kuldiga, where the Aizsargi maintains a base, a bonfire is set so that the smoke will show the fliers the direction and strength of the wind. They land accordingly and are met by many friends, both from the Aizsargi and also the Latvian Aero Club. Here, they take a break for lunch, before setting out again.
  • The aircraft, still in the original order of their departure from Riga, fly to the familiar airfield at Liepaja and, a few minutes later, depart on what is expected to be the most difficult leg of the journey.
  • The four aircraft fly a course parallel to the Latvia-Lithuania border.... flying south of Auce and Jelgava and eventually landing at Bauska. Here they must wait an obligatory half hour before setting off for the last flight of the day.
  • They continue flying east until they pick up the Daugava River at Krustpils, where they will stay the night.
  • The next morning finds frost on the ground. Colonel Indans has flown directly from Riga to Krustpils to be present for the start of the second day's flights. With a stiff tailwind they arrive at Daugavpils well ahead of schedule, but they all take a similar penalty and this does not affect the competition.
  • After a brief touchdown at Daugavpils, they must now set off flying into the same strong wind which drove them there. Flying at an altitude of 700 m, they must run their engines wide open if they hope to arrive in Salaspils on time. This is a long, but familiar, flight. Over Salaspils Gailitis and Celmins catch up with, and pass, KOD-1 #11, which had taken the lead at the start of the second day. They land at Salaspils' large airfield without incident.
  • After taking off, they turn to the north, flying over Incukalns, Sigulda and Cesis. landing at Valmiera. Some of the fliers were familiar with Valmiera's airfield as they had performed in the Aviation Festival there a few months earler, so landing was not a problem. Here they are met by a huge crowd. All the schoolchildren are present, and the fliers are given warm tea which is especially welcome after many hours flying in the cold weather.
  • All that remains to complete the first Flight Around Latvia competition is the final run down to Riga. Toms Gailitis reports that he made a hard landing on the familiar airfield at Spilve, but otherwise it was a most successful flight as Gailitis and his observer, Reinholds Celmins, took first place.

SOURCES
- Bruvelis, Edvins Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
- Sparnota Latvija, 1936

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