The Flight of the Avia to Brussels

It is ninety years ago this year that an independent and sovereign Czechoslovakia was founded, and ninety years ago this year that saw the establishment of an independent Czech aviation and aeronautics industry. All of this has a direct influence on the present day Czech Republic.

In the first half of the twenties in the twentieth century, one of the most popular air races in Europe was the “Prix de la roi Belgique” or the “Prize of the Belgium King”. The king, Albert I, was an avid sportsman and an enthusiastic pilot, who was very familiar with Czech pilots. One of them, Jan Štork, during WWI fought over German occupied Belgium, and was personally bestowed a knight in the order of Leopold II, by the king himself. For all airplane manufacturers it was a prestigious occasion to be a participant in this race and it was important to place well.

The airplane manufacturer Avia was one of them. Their first extraordinarily successful plane, the Avia BH 1, was originally supposed to have taken part in the race in 1922, but in the end the opportunity to take part failed to materialize. A year later, Dr. Zdeněk Lhota in a Avia BH 5, was at the „starting age“ and more than made up for his absence the year earlier. He won the race, receiving not only the “Prix de la Roi Belgique” but the Belgium’s air club “Belgian Tourist Aircraft Contest” as well.

The importance of the entire event was highlighted when the Belgium king, Albert I, personally handed over the winning trophy. This year it is 85 years since a Czech plane with a Czech pilot at its control, won its first international air race.

Dr. Lhota’s flight to Brussels itself was an exceptional feat of sportsmanship. With a stop mover at Mainz, he flew the entire route at an average speed of 138 km/h, which was quite an aeronautical achievement in 1923, not only in the sporting plane category, but in the overall one as well. And what’s more, with all the red tape in securing permission to fly over the territory of Germany, in the end he flew without it.

With a bit of tongue in cheek, we can state that during our upcoming flight of the Avia BH 5, we will finally fly over Germany legally for the first time. And also, with the flight of the Avia BH 1, we will finally fulfill the dreams of the designers, owners, and craftsmen of the Avia factory.