Aviators
P

PUSKELIS, NARCISS

Puskelis
  • Served in the Czarist air force, the 5th Aviation Division in the vicinity of Daugavpils. He, and a number of other Latvian aviators assigned to this unit, favored the creation of a Latvian aviation unit within the Russian military, much as a Latvian rifleman unit had been created within the infantry. The names of over 100 Latvian aviators within the Russian military were collected, but the process was halted when the military became too occupied with the major battles of 1916-1917 and could not spare the time to make these arrangements.
  • After the Russian revolution, Puskelis continues to fly, now with the Red air force.
  • August 22, 1918 - Puskelis is officially congratulated and recognized for an outstanding aerobatic display which he performed in front of military personnel in Moscow.
  • February 8, 1919 - based at Riga/Spilve aerodrome with the 1st Soviet Aviation Section.
  • May 19, 1919 - When Latvia declared its independence, and the Soviet troops began to withdraw to the east, Puskelis flies a Nieuport over from the airfield at Petersfeld and defects to the Latvian side. This particular Nieuport was eventually destroyed by a German flier, Hakbuss, who died when his engine stopped during a subsequent flight over the same Petersfeld.
  • June 29, 1919 - Puskelis joins the Latvian aviation unit (Rank: Lieutenant)
  • July 25, 1920 - participated in the Aviation Festival (the first) at Riga/Spilve. He and Zarins performed a mock dogfight. Puskelis was an especially gifted pilot and, among other things, he performed an unforgettable aerobatic display flying the Latvian air unit's first aircraft, Nieuport #1. Interestingly, Rudolf Drillis reports that Puskelis was about to be forbidden to make such flying displays because it was believed he was performing under the influence of narcotics.
  • July 25, 1920 - Puskelis drowns in the Daugava river. After the Aviation Festival, he had been celebrating and drank too much, falling overboard from the small ship ferrying people back to Riga's east shoreline, and he perished.

    Sources

    - Andersons, E. Latvijas Brunotie Speki pg. 287
    - Bruvelis, E. Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
    - Insignia Magazine - Latvian Air Force 1918-1940 pg. 2
    - Irbitis, K. Of Struggle and Flight
    - Sparnota Latvija, No.24 (Jun 1936) pg.716
    - Sparnota Latvija, No.32 (Feb 1937) pg.39*
    - Subota, Sandra Aviacijas Attistiba Latvija, pg. 4
    - Sparnota Latvija, No.60 (June 1939) pg.197
    - Sparnota Latvija, No.71/72 (May 1940) pg.167

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