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Lithuanian aviation

Long ago Lithuanians became interested in possibilities to fly. Lithuanian military engineer Kazimieras Simonavicius described the principles of the multistage rockets' construction in the artillery textbook "Artis Magnae Artilleriae", which was published in 1650 and was used in Europe for a long time. The self-taught constructor Aleksandras Griskevicius (1808-1863) constructed and described in the book "Lowlander's Steamflyer" ("ˇemaičio Garlėkis"), published in 1851 in Kaunas, the aircraft, which had the characteristics of the plane and the balloon.

In 1911 a glider was built in Kaunas by famous master of organs Jonas Garalevicius (1871-1943). In the same year Jonas Venskus tested the aircraft of his own construction in Germany. Approximately at this time the first Lithuanian pilots - Steponas Vilkaitis and Juozas Kraucevicius - learned to fly in the USA and in Russia. Ignas Adamkavicius, Stasys Valys-Gudavicius graduated from the aviation school in Russia, Pranas Hiksa - in Great Britain during the years of World War I. The number of Lithuanian pilots increased only in the Independent Lithuania.

The founders of the Lithuanian army, tempered in battles of World War I, highly evaluated the importance of military aviation. On January 30th, 1919, a military Engineering Company, consisting of electrical engineering, sapper, automobile and aviation squads, was formed.

On March 1st, the Engineering company was enlarged to a battalion and their squads were renamed to companies. On March 12th, the Aviation company was made an independent unit. This day is considered as an official birthday of the Lithuanian aviation. Newly formed Lithuanian aviation participated in the War for Independence against Soviets, German units and Poles.

When the Independence fights were finished, the Military Aviation was gradually developed. New aircraft were purchased, pilots trained and squadrons formed.

Aircraft constructors J.Dobkevicius and A.Gustaitis started to design planes of Lithuanian construction. Starting in 1930, the aeroplanes for training and reconnaissance purposes were built in serial production in the Aviation Workshops in Kaunas.

In 1927 the Aero Club of Lithuania was established. It popularized aviation sports, founded Gliding School, trained civil pilots and modellers, arranged aeroplane competitions, published literature about aviation.

Aircraft of some foreign airlines landed in Kaunas since 1922. In 1938 inner passenger service of Lithuanian Air Lines was initiated.

Two Lithuanian transatlantic flights of 1933 and 1935 were inscribed into the world aviation history, moved the young Lithuanian generation to interest in aviation, to go in for aviation sports.

Lithuanian aviation activities broke Soviet army on the 15-16 of June 1940. Many aviators were subjected to repression - imprisoned or killed when Lithuania was occupied.

After WWII Soviet occupation continued. But despite restrictions and strong supervising of DOSAAF and KGB, Lithuanian aviation sports became the leading one in the Soviet empire.

When the statement of the reestablishment of the independent Republic of Lithuania on March 11th, 1990 was proclaimed, the restoring of national aviation started. In some years the Lithuanian Air Forces, Aero Club, aviation companies were established. Lithuania has its Aviation Institute, Association of Aviation Industries. Lithuanian aviators, especially aerobatic pilots, glider designers are known in the world again.

         

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