Białystok - Krywlany Airport. 2018
City of Białystok.
Due to the cold climate, air conditions are not the easiest here. The average annual temperature is only +7 degrees Celsius. The number of frosty days is 50-60 a year. Snow cover is here for 90-110 days a year. Annual rainfall is also higher and amounts to 550 mm.
Krywlany was a village near Białystok, where in the 18th century there was an inn. In the mid-nineteenth century, a farm was established here and a small manor house was built. Currently, the airport is known as Krywlany. In the second Republic of Poland, the name of Dojlidy was used more often than the name of the village, which was the property of Prince Jerzy Lubomirski, a landowner.
Białystok's relationship with aviation dates back to 1910, when Count Michał del Campo flew an airplane over Białystok. During the Great World War, the mosques established the first airbase for observation balloons in Pietrasze. Also at that time, a huge bomber plane Ilja Muromiec G-II (G-36) was seen over Białystok. These planes were bombing Prussia. In retaliation in March 1915, Germanic airships and planes bombed Białystok. In August 1915, after a successful offensive, the Germanists established an air base in Krywlany. They cleared a little forest, leveled the landing area and built two wooden hangars (firehouses). Six airplanes could be hidden inside them. A permanent workshop and storage room for fuels, oils and lubricants were arranged.
After Poland regained independence, in March 1919, the 1st Aviation Group with three Intelligence Squadrons arrived at the Krywlany Airport. The planes came from Warsaw, and the ground staff with the equipment arrived by rail. The planes flew for reconnaissance and bombing of the Bolshevik army in the direction of Lida. The bombs were then thrown by hand. Squadrons moved east. Then, as a result of the Bolshevik offensive, on July 28, 1920, the Squadrons returned to the Krywlany Airport. But at the beginning of August 1920, as a result of equipment losses, they were withdrawn as far as Warsaw. After equipping Squadrons with new planes and after the victorious Battle of Warsaw, they returned to Białystok. At that time, they supported the Polish Army during the Battle of the Neman. The first aerial photos of Białystok come from this period. Then the Squadrons moved east, chasing the Bolsheviks. After signing the peace treaty, some Polish air force units returned to Białystok for good. Pilots and ground crew used the farm buildings.
In 20 years, two hangars were built for the Polish Intelligence Squadrons based here. Later, another larger hangar was built. Concrete parking spaces were built in front of the hangars. The take-off area was dirt, grassy.
Military squadrons in Krywlany were stationed until around 1926, after which they were forwarded to Lida and Vilnius. The airport served as a backup base for the 5th Aviation Regiment in Lida.
On September 23, 1924, on the initiative of the Białystok voivode, Eng. Marian Rembowski, the Provincial and County Committee of the Air and Anti-Gas League was established. It was an important moment for aviation in Białystok.
In the first years of the Second Republic of Poland, the Krywlany airport was not sanctioned by law. In 1925, the airport was expanded. The initiator was the Provincial Committee of the Anti-Aircraft and Gas Defense League. The local authorities, headed by the voivode, Marian Rembowski, and the Ministry of Military Affairs, favored the initiative. The airport in Białystok has become a stage airport for many aviation events organized in Poland. It was written and said proudly - Krywlany Airport in Białystok. In 1927, the area was bought from the owners. A total of about 250 hectares.
In 1935, a steel and wooden hangar and back-up buildings were built.
In 1937, the League of Anti-Aircraft and Anti-Gas Defense in Białystok became the owner of two RWD-8 aircraft. The glider section was very strong, supported by the glider scout team. Its member was Ryszard Kaczorowski (the future president in exile, who died in the Smolensk attack on April 10, 2010). Construction work at the airport peaked in 1937, although the funding was extremely modest.
Air shows were regularly organized at the airport to popularize air sport. Airplanes, gliders and parachute jumping were also performed by women. For those who are willing and have money, sightseeing flights were organized.
In 1938, a parachute tower was built in Zwierzyniec in Białystok.
At that time, the airport had the largest area, approximately 270 hectares. Shape close to a square. The main entrance to the airport was located on the eastern side, currently Adama Mickiewicza Street. The main facilities of the airport's back office are located in its southern part. The remains are numerous concrete squares and roads.
The airport had its own railway siding from the Kuriany railway station. Currently, this siding is closed. Only here and there are fragments of railway tracks. The Kuriany station itself currently has only one track with negligible rail traffic and is a railway stop.
It was not possible to create a communication airport in Krywlany. Białystok lost the competition to Vilnius - Porubanek, 200 km away.
Right before the outbreak of World War II, lighting was installed for night flights. It was planned to place at the Airport a squadron armed with PZL P.37 Łoś bombers.
During the Second World War, from October 1939, Soviet troops were stationed here. In December 1939, the Soviets completed the construction of the hard runway. The I-16, LaGG-3 and training UTI-4 (I-16 version) planes were based here. In the spring of 1940, the Soviet aviation school started operating.
In June 1941, the airport was taken over by the Germanis. They have prepared plans for the expansion of the airport. Barracks were built. More hangars and back-up buildings were built. The lighting system has been significantly expanded.
On the 75-meter tower of the Church of St. Roch, the Germans launched a tracking radio station for the airport. Interestingly, the church was still under construction at that time, and earlier, in 1940, the Soviets wanted to organize a circus there. The temple was consecrated by Archbishop Romuald Jałbrzykowski on August 18, 1946.
Around 1943, the Germans at the Airport extended a concrete runway to accommodate heavy aircraft. (Not to be confused with the new 2018 RWY). It was built in the direction of 14/32 and was 1,220 m long.
Many combat aircraft were stationed at the airport: He-111, Ju-87, Ju-88, Me-109 and others.
Before the retreat, the Germans blew up almost all airport facilities.
In 1944, the airport was again occupied by the Soviet army. The demolished and burned airport was provisionally prepared for operation. This time the following planes were based here: Po-2, Ił-2, Ła-5, Jak-9, Li-2, Pe-2 and Douglas A-20 Havoc - Bostons.
In April 1945, there were plans to launch passenger air connections from Białystok. However, at that time it was impossible and the plans were postponed to the next year. Soviet Lisunov Li-2 planes with "fixers of the people's power" landed at the airport. In March 1946, PLL LOT launched the Warsaw-Białystok air connection. They were operated by Li-2 and DC-3 planes. Flights took place three times a week: Monday, Wednesday and Friday. The ticket cost PLN 400. The flight took 50-60 minutes. The line did not attract much interest and was suspended after several weeks.
On May 14, 1946, the Białystok Aero Club was registered.
Written by Karol Placha Hetman