Centrum im. Ludwika Zamenhofa
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Białystok sanitary aviation

Feliks Nadowski, born on December 18th, 1929 in Sokóle near Siemiatycze. He began to fly in 1947 in the army. He ended his military service in 1953. He joined the Białystok Aero Club in 1956, from 1961 to 1980 he flew for sanitary aviation. He spent a total of about 8700 hours in the air. From 1980 he was a member of the Białystok Senior Aviation Club. In addition, from 1983 he was an active member of the Polish Community association. He died on December 20, 2018.

This is how he recalls work in sanitary avioation in his testimony:

“The situation was that my friend Wiciński worked for sanitary aviation and on May Day he was supposed to drop flowers upon the May Day parade. While dropping these flowers, he stumbled, while flying, he stumbled over a phone line that was placed from one building to another across the Kościuszki Square and as he wanted to fly on low altitude, he didn’t notice the line and stumbled over the line with the landing gear. He was dragged to the park. He managed to land safely, didn’t kill himself. But he was dismissed from sanitary aviation, so there was a job vacancy. They needed a pilot, so I applied for the job and was drafted into sanitary aviation in place of Konrad Wiciński.

I passed the flying exam, I did the exam flight, I received the flying permission and I started to fly for the sanitary aviation. We were flying in various conditions, because it was giving help. Sport flying was in other conditions however flying for sanitary aviation required flying in various conditions and performing the flights in various weather. The weather varied. Flying was giving people help. The conditions were sometimes really hard and these conditions needed to be conquered to perform a flight.

We were flying from dawn to dusk. We were sometimes flying at night, returning, you flew during the day, and came back after the dusk. The conditions required to land safely and bring the ill man, or give help, or bring blood, or bring other things, or bring the ill for the surgery. Flying like that was complicated.

The flight instruments were illuminated during the flight, it was possible to see them, their readings and you performed the flight basing on these readings, heading, speed, time The landscape was illuminated, towns for example, or villages were clearly visible on the ground. The lights were visible and allowed to measure your location. Heading, time and speed were basic parameters to determine location and asset situation.

In the beginning, we only had sc. Kukuruznik planes – – biplanes. And then we got a 2-seat plane, Aero. Then we received another 2-seat plane – Morava. They were 2-seat, pardon, twin-engined planes.. They were for long-haul flights. For example to Cracow, Wrocław, Szczecin, Gdańsk or Olsztyn. Then we took a twin-engined plane Super Aero, very nice plane. It ran smoothly. And locally we flied on these [Kukuruzniks]. then we had Gawrons, and then we got helicopters. We flied on the helicopters locally. And these twin-engined aircrafts were for further routes.

As we were flying on the helicopters locally, we were landing in various conditions. With planes in winter, when they were harsh, we were landing on lakes. For example to Ełk, Suwałki or Olsztyn. If you couldn’t land at the airport or the situation required to bring the ill somewhere else, we were choosing the closest place suitable for landing. We were landing even on lakes, because frozen lakes were just like airports, Level terrain covered with snow. Only skis were put on. We were flying with skis in winter. We were simply landing on the snow.”

Full coverage is available in the LZC Media Library – the archive of oral history of Białystok and Podlachia: http://www.mediateka.centrumzamenhofa.pl/videos/projects/332/721/5260/