WHAT: The Third "Flight Around Latvia" Contest

WHEN: October 1 - 2, 1938

WHO: Military, Aizsargi and Sports aviators.

Group posing before Ozolins' KOD #41 Group Photo before start Post-event Awards Banquet T.Gailitis receives his award P.Sotnieks and his awards

  • The event was organized by the Latvian Aero Club.
  • It was designed not to set records, but to challenge aviators at a variety of skills, including basic piloting and navigating, dropping of markers, and precise landing. Points were awarded and deducted according to the performance in these areas, and an over-all winner was calculated. They were expected to land the aircraft at the designated airfields, touching down within a 30-metre designated area, and at other waypoints they only performed a fly-over, but would drop a marker within 25 metres of a designated point.
  • The total route would total 1087 km, with the following sequence: Riga (Spilve) - Tukums - Talsi - Ventspils - Kuldiga - Liepaja - Auce - Jelgava - Bauska - Krustpils. At Krustpils the first days' flying would end and they would spend the night. The next day the journey continues: Krustpils - Daugavpils - Varaklani - Gulbene - Valmiera - Rujiena - Matisi - Riga (Spilve). Landings were to take place at Ventspils, Liepaja, Jelgava, Krustpils, Daugavpils, Gulbene and Rujiena - the other waypoints required the dropping of a marker.
  • The contest was open to military, Aizsargu and Latvian Aero Club aviators who have access to an airworthy and registered aircraft. See the chart for the entry list.
  • A total of 13 entries started at Riga, and they would take off in a timed sequence.
  • The Competition
    • The Start at Riga - The first aircraft (VEF I-12 #27 flown by K.Bandinieks) departs Spilve at 8:49 am. The others follow in 10-minute intervals until the last aircraft (Bristol Bulldog #82 flown by A. Lasmanis) left at 10:49 am.
    • Tukums - the marker drops take place on the aerodrome, located just beyond the hill to the west of the town. After 54 km of flight, the aircraft all appeared at Tukums in the same order in which they had left Riga.
    • Talsi - the marker drop took place at a bonfire, set by the side of the road between the railway and the lake. Unfortunately, many farmers were burning brush in their potato fields and this confused some aviators into dropping their markers on the wrong bonfire. Reichmanis and Strazdins, flying KOD1 # 21 experienced an engine failure and had to make a forced landing while flying over the town. They had no choice but to land in the market square, which did not provide any run-out for the rolling aircraft which subsequently hit a woodshed and was too damaged to continue.
    • Ventspils - The first to land at the spacious Ventspils aerodrome is Bandenieks, who was also the first to depart from Spilve. The quickest total flight time, however, at this point belongs to Grants in Svenska Pirat #102. After refueling, the aircraft once again depart in the same order as they had arrived.
    • Kuldiga - the marker drop took place at the aerodrome, and poses little challenge to the participants.
    • Liepaja - The aviators arrive in almost the same order as they had left Ventspils, with the exception that Grants continues to overtake those departing before him. Sapratnieks, flying Bristol Bulldog #72, has a tyre blowout on landing.
    • Auce - the marker drop took place in a clearing beside the railroad, near the Snikeris hillside cemetary. The point was marked with another bonfire. For the most part, the participants did well and the race went on without incident.
    • Jelgava - The aviators landed at Jelgavas new aerodrome. Bandinieks arrived first, and the rest of the order was shuffled considerably, as the slower aircraft were now being overtaken by the faster ones. En route to Jelgava, Gailitis (in KOD-1 #22) had to make a forced landing when his engine began running out of oil. After replenishing the oil, Gailitis took off again and completed the flight. The delay dropped him from 7th to 11th in the flight order. Rudzitis, in VEF I-12 #37, suffered a broken tail skid upon landing which necessitated him staying overnight in Jelgava instead of Krustpils with the rest.
    • Bauska - the marker drop took place at the aerodrome, where the flight lines are clear of obstructions, and almost no penalty points were assigned for missing the target.
    • Krustpils - Krustpils aerodrome is located, when approaching from the direction of Bauska, just over the Daugava River. All except Rudzitis (and, of course, Reichmanis) landed here and stayed the night. The next morning all aircraft left in the order in which they had arrived and, about 50 minutes later, Rudzitis (with a repaired tail skid) made a brief landing and then continued the chase.
    • Daugavpils - The first aircraft, piloted by Bandenieks, lands at 8:32 am. Landings and takeoffs here were without incident.
    • Varaklani - the marker drop took place to the south of the town, near the windmills. The spot was marked with a bonfire. The organizers, however, had set up a 5-metre flagpole near the bonfire and this interfered with the marker drops, so many missed the target. The aircraft continued on along Lake Lubana towards Gulbene.
    • Gulbene - Arrivals at Gulbenes aerodrome were spread over a wide time span. By the time the last aircraft (Rudzitis) left Gulbene, Bandenieks had already reached Riga/Spilve. Of note, Gulbis (flying KOD-1 #24) finally picked up his first penalty points - the only remaining aviator with a perfect score is Gailitis, in KOD-1 #22.
    • Valmiera - the marker drop took place on the aerodrome. The drops took place without incident, but one additional aircraft was missing. Lasmanis, in Bristol Bulldog #82, had experienced an engine failure near Smiltene, damaged the aircraft in a forced landing, and was unable to continue.
    • Rujiena - The Rujiena aerodrome is the last landing before the finish line at Riga/Spilve. With the winds picking up and dark clouds approaching, the fliers were eager to replenish their fuel and hurry on their way. Rudzitis arrived even later than expected - he apparently got lost for awhile.
    • Matisi - The marker drop took place on a bonfire to the south of the town. A larger than usual number of spectators had gathered to witness the parade of aircraft, and the drops took place without incident.
    • The Finish - Riga/Spilve - At 12:08, the first to land at Riga was Bandenieks, who had led the way since the event started the previous morning. 90 minutes later Svalbe (in KOD-2 #25) arrived, followed by Sapratnieks. The others arrived, one after the other, with Rudzitis as the only surprise. He had left Rujiena in 11th place but, by the time he got to Riga, he was sixth. The last to arrive was Gailitis at 15:22, who completed his flight penalty-free. Now, all that remained was to count up the penalty points and elapsed flight times and award the trophies.
  • For accuracy in landing, Gailitis in KOD-1 #22 took first place (no penalty points). In second was Sotnieks in KOD-1 #10 and in four aircraft were tied for third place with 80 penalty points each: Gulbis, Ozolins, Rudzitis and Sapratnieks.
  • For consistent speed/accuracy, P.Sotnieks took first place, Svalbe took second place, and Ansons (flying Aero Club machine "Kaija") came in third.
  • For accuracy in dropping the markers, Sotnieks came in first, averaging only 5.4 metres from the target. Ozolins, in KOD-1 #41, came in second with an average distance of 5.8 metres, and Gailitis came in third, averaging a distance of 6.7 metres from the target.
  • On October 11 the participants gathered for the awards banquet at the Latvian Aero Club hall.

Sparnota Latvija No.53, November 1938, pg. 683 - 692.

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