|Date: July 25, 1920
Riga - Spilve
|Aircraft Known to be Involved:
Hannover CL.III #21, three Sopwith
Camels (#6, #18 and one other), Nieuport
24bis #1, LVG #24
- The first Aviation Festival held in Latvia (as distinct from
various small privately-organized flight demonstrations in the early days of
- The main purposed behind this festival was to raise money,
both for desperately needed aircraft for the new air force and also to aid the
widows and dependants of aviators who had died in the service. A secondary
benefit was that the Festivals would introduce the general public to aviation
and its recent achievements.
- This festival was publicized to an impressive degree for its
time. Articles written by experienced pilots appeared in newspapers, special
postage stamps were issued, and leaflets were circulated.
- On the day of the event, ferry service was instituted across
the Daugava River. Tickets were sold with standing room costing six rubles,
while seats cost 10. A buffet was offered, with an orchestra playing background
music. The day was cloudy and rainy, but the show went on as planned.
- The program included:
- Demonstration of Formation flying (The Camels and the
- Solo flight - controlled spin from an altitude of 400 to
20 metres (J.Prieditis in a Camel)
- Solo flight - controlled spin from an altitude of 3000
metres (V.Jakubovs in a Camel)
- Solo flight - A brilliant display of aerobatics by
N.Puskelis in the Nieuport.
- Aerial Combat demonstration - N.Puskelis and A.Zarins.
- After the demonstration flights, civilians were given the
opportunity to purchase a flight as a passenger in either the Hannover or LVG,
being flown by V.Jakubovs and P.Abrams. This activity had to be halted at 8pm
because of strong winds and the remaining ticket holders were invited back to
receive their ride on July 29th. For the record, the first Latvian civilian to
be taken up in a Latvian military airplane at such an event was woman named
Miss Berzins, who actually purchased two such flights in the Hannover.
- Sadly, Puskelis' superb aerobatic performance at the Festival
was also his last. That evening, after the festivities and presumably no small
amount of alcohol, he drowned during the ferry ride back to Riga.
- Bruvelis, Edvins Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
Jaunakas Zinas July 26, 1920
A Personal Note
My mother, born in 1911, was in grade school in Riga living with her
older brothers, they had a second-floor flat looking out on the courtyard in
the "Sinka maja", an apartment building owned by the Sinka family in the center
of Riga. As we (the U.S.) shot the first man in space—just as every other
child of the time I had an assignment to put together a scrap book from
newspaper clippings—I had no idea that as a child, she had ran barefoot
in the Spilve fields to see the first plane land there, a story she only told
me years later.
This web page on Gunars' site—prepared with love, and care, and some measure of justified pride—the
happy marriage of friendships forged
through Latvians celebrating their heritage and the wonders of the Internet,
brings those times and that story to life...
...and so, supporting this site in tribute to Gunars is not an act
of some sort of ethnic patriotism, but rather my personal thanks
for connecting me to a special moment in my family's history.