Aviators
R

RUNKA, HERBERTS

  • 1905 - born in Madona.
  • 1922 - Runka sees the first aircraft to visit Madona, and this sight inspires his interest in aviation.
  • Attended school in Riga, and became a regular visitor to the early Latvian Aeroclub.
  • 1924 - while Pulins' Spriditis P-2 was being built, Runka would frequently visit the workshops and offer his help. His offer was not accepted by the constructor (Janis Kanuke) but Runka would ask questions and learn all he could from the designers and builders, including Karlis Irbitis.
  • Later, Runka approached Knauke with some rough sketches for a different plane entirely, and convinced him to begin constructing some of the parts. Irbitis, aware that Runka had an idea but no real drawings for this airplane, volunteered to assist the young enthusiast with the plans. Irbitis designed for him a single-seat high-wing monoplane that eventually came to be known as "Kaija". With Runka's limited finances, it took a number of years to get this aircraft built.
  • 1928 - "Kaija" is finally completed and ready for test flight at Spilve. Runka (who did not know how to fly) arranged for a pilot, Alfreds Paulovskis, to take the plane up for the first time. On the test run the aircraft crashed when one of the wheels came off. Paulovskis, uninjured, walked away from the project then and there. The repairs were easy to make, but Runka now had no pilot.
  • 1928 - Runka purchased Nikolaj Pulins' Spriditis P-2. Runka did not know how to fly, but his plan was to teach himself. He tried to fly it from a field near Marciena and planted it on its nose. Attempts to fly it, on skis, from a frozen lake proved it to be underpowered for winter operation. In 1929 he sold the aircraft to Karlis Konstants.
  • 1929 - Runka tries the Kaija on skis on frozen Lazdona Lake. He makes a series of short hops, getting progressively more confident with his control. Eventually, he collided with a horse-drawn sleigh and damaged his aeroplane.
  • 1934 - Runka approaches Irbitis with an idea to rebuild the Kaija as a two-seater. Irbitis built a tandem high-wing monoplane, with the passenger sitting beneath the wing and the pilot directly behind it. They would utilized the wing from the earlier plane, but needed a more powerful engine. Runka departed, plans in hand, to begin building, but had to settle for a different engine, one which could not fly with two people on board. On his own, Runka then decided to put the plane on floats, but he made no adjustments to the design to accommodate that configuration. Irbitis was quite concerned when he heard about the changes, but Runka was determined to try it. While taxiing on the Daugava one of the Runka-designed floats dug into the waves. The aircraft flipped over and sank, but Runka was rescured unharmed.
  • 1937-1938 - Runka successfully completed the Latvian Aero Club Sport flyer's program.
  • Runka claimed that he salvaged the sunken airplane and rebuilt it with a wheeled undercarriage, wrecking it in a forced landing near AiNazi. Irbitis writes that he could not confirm Runka's tale, and had some serious doubts as to its veracity.
  • 1942 - (German Occupation) - Runka, living in a workshop near the Doma Church, is building yet another aircraft. This is a two-seater, high wing monoplane with an enclosed cabin. Unfortunately, with the events of the war, nothing further is known of the fate of Herberts Runka.

    Sources

    - Andersons, E. Latvijas Brunotie Speki
    - Bruvelis, Edvins Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
    - Irbitis, Karlis Latvijas Aviacija un tas Pionieri
    - Irbitis, Karlis Of Struggle and Flight
    - Sparnota Latvija, No.50 (Aug 1938) pg.610

LATVIANAVIATION.COM contents copyright © 2021 Gunārs Zūlis and heirs. All Rights Reserved.
Contributors of individual materials retain all rights to their collections and creative works.
LATVIANAVIATION.COM is a LATVIANS.COM project.

Design and hosting by [Clear-and-Simple] · Chicago · New York