Mokotów Airport. Part 1. 2016

Warszawa 2016-01-02

Former Mokotów Airport - Pole Mokotowskie

Part 1 - until 1918.

Former Pole Mokotowskie airport on the map of Poland
Former Pole Mokotowskie airport on the map of Poland

The beginnings of Polish Aviation.

Nowadays, few people remember that one of the most important airports for the Polish nation operated in Mokotów in Warsaw. It is here that the Polish Aviation and Polish Aviation Industry were born, and it was at the time when Poland was under partitions.

When writing about Polish Aviation, we must go back to the beginning of aviation development. It is well known that the first successful flights with heavier-than-air apparatus on December 17, 1903 were made by the brothers Orville and Wilbur Wright. However, very quickly, France took over the world leadership in this new sport. We used the word sport because few people saw in it a new era of conquering the skies. Most people saw aviation as a hobby and entertainment, on a par with horse racing and balloon flying. The situation changed when, on July 25, 1909, Louis Blériot, an aviation pioneer, inventor and manufacturer on his own Blériot XI airplane, flew over the English Channel. It was then that the airplane began to be treated as a means that could be practically used. This was noticed by the military, which began to consider the use of aircraft for reconnaissance and rapid transport of mail and people.

In the first years of aviation, France was the leading country in the production of airplanes. It had eight large factories and several smaller factories. The most important are: Blériot, Dewoitine, Nieuport, Farman, Hanriot, Voisin, Breguet, Morane. In addition, there were several factories in France that produced car and aircraft engines. At that time, the Germans had only two plants, Albatros and Awiatik. England (Bristol) and Austria had one production plant each. That is why it was France that dictated the conditions and set the directions of development. It was in Paris that the FAI organization was founded in 1905 - Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, i.e. the International Aviation Federation, which to date issues standards and regulations for aircraft construction and air sports. Organizes events and aviation competitions. FAI validates the results and records.

It was in France that the rules for obtaining aviation licenses, the organization of schools were established, and certificates for aircraft structures were issued. As a result, each of the companies had its own aircraft construction and repair facility, its own workshop facilities and hangars, its own pilot school, and sold its products itself. The companies had their own test pilots. They built planes according to their own ideas and plans, which were the company's secret. The acquired pilot's license was valid only for a given type of aircraft. If someone obtained a pilot's license from Hanriot, it was only valid for Hanriot airplanes. In 1910, the licenses were unified and validated by the Aero Club of France.

In the first period of aviation, gliders and planes were built by the designers themselves, accompanied by two or three helpers. They were often family members; brothers or cousins. Most of the constructors had solid technical knowledge, as they came from wealthy families and they could afford education in renowned polytechnic schools. They often traveled watching others. They did not notice any technical novelty. They used barns and sheds as workshops. They used their own meadows and grasslands as landing fields. Airplanes were built using a variety of raw materials and materials. The base was wood, but metal tubes and metal fittings were also used. Some have already used hollow wood or bamboo to reduce the weight of the structure. They used canvas, plywood, and even cardboard, cardboard and paper. In their designs, they used a simple pilot seat and even bicycle saddles. Everything to keep weight down. They used large amounts of wire in the construction to stiffen the structure. They often used piano and harp strings because they were light, strong and long. They often used bicycle wheels as landing gear, which proved to be strong and light, although they often deformed on landing, because initially no spring was used. The biggest problem was the drive unit: the engine and the propeller. The success or failure of the enterprise depended on these elements. The engines were bought from manufacturers who had already built them on a mass scale for the automotive industry. The propellers were often made by themselves.

Poles, despite the lack of their statehood, quickly joined the countries interested in the development of aviation. In 1908, the first Poles obtained aviation qualifications: Count Michał Scipio del Campo in France, and Rudolf Warchałowski in Austria. Two aviation centers were established almost spontaneously: in Warsaw and Lviv.

In 1884, the Aeronautical Society was founded in Lviv. In 1909, people associated with the Polytechnic School, later Lviv Polytechnic, created a company called Awiata, whose aim was to popularize aviation through readings, exhibitions, shows, and above all, supporting people who built their own airplanes. Until the Great World War, several aircraft constructions were built in Lviv, the attempts of which came out with varying luck. Various places were used as take-off fields, among them Kulparkowskie Field and Błonia Janowskie. In turn, the shows took place at the horse racing track near Persenówka.

In 1909, in Warsaw, the Warsaw Aviation Society was founded, commonly known as the Circle of Aviators or simply Awiata. Awiata was initiated by Prince Stanisław Lubomirski, a financier, industrialist, promoter of automobile and aeronautics. At the same time, air model shops began to appear. Awiata had three main contributions to the development of Polish Aviation. First of all - Awiata's merit was the establishment of the first landing field in the Kingdom of Poland, which became an airport. Second - Organizing the first pilot school. Thirdly - Launching the first factory producing airplanes in Poland. All this in Pole Mokotowskie.

Pole Mokotowskie.

It is worth realizing where the Mokotowskie airport was located in Warsaw, of which there is no trace now. The name "Pole Mokotowskie" was taken from the nearby village of Mokotów. The area was intended for the exercises of the tsarist army from the nearby barracks as well as various parades and shows. In 1887, a new horse racing track was organized by the Horse Racing Society in the north-eastern part of the field. The eastern border of Pole Mokotowskie was Polna and Puławska Streets (from Politechniki Square, through Unii Lubelskiej Square, to the block with Rakowicka Street). At the end of the 19th century, an electric tram ran from Plac Unii Lubelskiej through Marszałkowska Street to the center of Warsaw. An Orthodox church was built at 2a Puławska Street in 1904, which exists to this day as an Evangelical church. The southern border of the field was Rakowiecka Street, next to which stood the tsarist barracks built in the period 1898-1900. The northern border of the field was formed by streets running from Politechniki Square towards the west: Nowowiejska, Topolowa (now a part of Ludwika Krzywickiego Street, which was then planted with poplars on both sides) and Filtrowa. There was a tsarist military hospital in Nowowiejska Street, as well as Warsaw drinking water filters, launched in 1886. Nowowiejska Street, as a dirt road, ran as far as the road leading from Warsaw towards Kraków. The western boundary of the Field has not been precisely defined. The area overlooked agricultural land and wasteland. The natural border of the Field, from the north and east, was the narrow-gauge access railway track, which ran for cargo and passenger trains. Currently, this route is used by Warsaw trams.

Etrich Taube.

The Etrich Taube is the most popular Austrian and German aircraft from the pre-World War II period. The constructor of the aircraft was Igo Etrich. The word Tauube means pigeon. The aircraft was manufactured in many plants, including Aviata (at least 1 piece). These planes were also known as Rumpler Taube, from the German plant that built the most of them. It was the first successful two-seater. The plane uses the shape of the seeds of the "Zanonia macrocarpa" plants, which are carried very far by the wind. First there were models of gliders, gliders, and finally an airplane. Front engine monoplane system with pull propeller. Sheet metal engine for improved aerodynamics. Construction made of metal pipes or mixed by other manufacturers. The outline of the wings resembles a bird's wings. The plane had no ailerons. Their role was played by the flexible ends of the lobe. The plane was very safe. He tended to smooth the flight and was extremely sedate. It was cheap to produce and operate. At least 200 machines were built. Due to the unregulated formal and legal status and the lack of a license, the plane was copied many times. As the plane was built by different companies, you can meet different technical data. Dimensions span 13.5-14.5 m, length 12-14 m, engines 50-100 HP.

Etrich Taube. 2017. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman
Etrich Taube. 2017. Photo by Karol Placha Hetman

Written by Karol Placha Hetman