This is Where They Were, This is Where they Worked

We will present the profiles of 90 notable members in the history of the Institute of Aviation during the anniversary celebrations – both in the form of reminiscences of their friends and colleagues as well as in the form of their short biographies. New persons will be presented every month. The complete set of profiles will be published in book form by the Scientific Publishing Houses of the Institute in May 2016.

Memories of:

Iryda Was My Rival

Krzysztof Kunachowicz in the reminiscences of Hanna Kunachowicz
I married engineer Krzysztof Kunachowicz in 1961, who was working at the Institute of Aviation in Aleja Krakowska in Warsaw at the time. We lived in the house of the Institute at ulica Opaczewska. That was also when I met my husband’s colleagues and test pilots (A. Abłamowicz, L. Natkaniec, R. Witkowski, and S. Wielgus). I heard many aviation stories at that time. At the end of the 1960s, Krzysztof frequently travelled to Moscow on official duties with his team. The main objective of their trips was granting FAR/BCAR compliant aircraft certification to Soviet aircraft. Poland was an ICAO member at the time and the Soviet Union was not. The trips to the Soviet Union lasted several weeks at a time, giving Polish engineers and pilots the status of top-class experts.

For the engineers working at the Institute, their work was also their passion, hobby and pride and joy. Aviation exhibitions attracted enormous interest, especially the aviation showrooms that were held every two years in Paris. My husband would return overladen with prospects, photographs and trade journals and magazines that would fill every drawer in his desk and every shelf in his room. I also remembers the characteristic aircraft profiles of the time, like the Concorde. Underground publications from the Polish Bookshop in Rue St. Germain would also be smuggled in between the trade journals and magazines.

Work on the Iryda begun in 1976. Krzysztof became the Deputy Chief Designer of Avionics and electronic systems. From that time on, he had even less free time. He would travel, by plane, to and fro from Mielec and would work until very late in the evening. He even once forgot to pick up the children from nursery because he was so engrossed in his work.

In 1980, my husband became involved in the Solidarity movement. He once left for work stocked up in sandwiches, tinned food and a blanket, ready for a possible occupational strike.

Then came the Martial Law. A group of senior engineers would meet up in homes to have work and political discussions, the key issue being the future development of the Polish aviation industry. According to one of the members of this group, “it consisted of people who could trust each other and had a relevant level of knowledge and professional experience. They intentionally did not want these meetings to be associated with the clandestine structures of the Solidarity movement, knowing intuitively that this circle of people could be penetrated by Communist agents. The group was intentionally not given any organisational structure or name but was only humorously referred to by its participants as the “Council of the Elders.” Two such discussion meetings were held in our home in the Mokotów district. The designers were engrossed in their work and put all their strength in their work.

Of course, this was not void of difficulties and tension. In also remember my husband taking part in investigations following commercial aircraft accidents, especially one phone call in the middle of the night after the Iryda plane crash over the City of Radom and the urgent trip to the crash site.

Friendships forged at work lasted long past the Krzysztof’s retirement in 1998. Invitations to Christmas get-togethers or jubilee celebrations at the Institute of Aviation as well as the annual names day wishes from his younger work colleagues are very touching to this day. The present growth and development of the Institute of Aviation through the arduous efforts of the management and staff is also a great consolation and joy.


My Task Was to “Penetrate” Every Single Part of the Fuel Gauge…

Bogumił Mierkowski in the memoirs of Hanna Gawryszewska

When I first went to the Institute of Aviation, I was met at the reception by engineer Henia Barczewska and was instructed during our short journey to building D1 that engineer Bogumił Mierkowski, with whom I was to collaborate with, is a person with disability and that I am not allowed to talk or ask any questions about it. I never did find out about the causes of his disability but Ms Henia’s warning frightened me.

Engineer Mierkowski was a mechanic and at the time (1976) was in charge of the “Capacitive fuel gauge for the W3 helicopter” topic. The fuel gauge was meant to be put into production at ZSM “Era”, where I worked. My task was to “penetrate” into every single part of the fuel gauge in order to gain greater knowledge and understanding of its structure and operation.

Engineer Mierkowski turned out to be a very kind and patient person and an excellent teacher. Upon his advice, I created the prototype and subjected it to test type testing in the Institute’s laboratories. Consultations and discussions concerning the necessary changes for serial production were held at every stage of the works. Cooperation with engineer Mierkowski was also substantive and intellectually stimulating, facilitating the search for further knowledge exceeding the scope of the current area of expertise.

He was a driver and great enthusiast of caravanning, actively involved in many associations. He travelled across Poland and Europe and managed to incite interest in tourism among us.

I became an employee of the Institute of Aviation in 1978 and this time my cooperation with engineer Mierkowski concerned the modernisation of capacitive fuel gauges.

Eng. Mierkowski took active part in the formation of the Solidarity Trade Union Organization at the Institute, and worked in the Automobile Club in Warsaw’s Ochota district as a pensioner.

Gustaw A. Mokrzycki (1894-1992) was an aircraft structure and aviation production organisation expert. He began his studies at the Lviv Technical University in 1911. During the First World War, he was an observer second lieutenant in the Austrian Army. After the war in 1918 – 1919, he was in the Polish Air Force (technical officer in the III Air Force Group). Seconded to complete his degree course, he obtained his engineering degree in 1919. In 1924 he became director of the Polish aerospace manufacturer Wielkopolska Wytwórnia Samolotów “Samolot.” He also worked as a university lecturer in aviation subjects in Poznań and then from 1927 at the Warsaw University of Technology (first as associate professor and then as full professor from 1937). Head of the Technical Research Institute of Aviation from 1 January 1930, playing a major part in the organisational changes that took place in the Institute and its subsequent development. Following the outbreak of war, he was evacuated to France and organised (with the rank of captain) the education in the Polish Air Force. After France’s defeat, he gained passage to Great Britain where he started work at the Polish Air Force Centre for Education, soon after, he left for Canada where he worked on automatic flight control in the aviation industry. He then worked in the US aviation industry from 1944 and then in scientific and research centres (Convair, Ryan, USAF Flight Test Centre, North American, and Northrop Space Laboratory), as an expert in the automation of in-flight measurements, stability and aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicle automatic control systems. He was a well-known advocate of aviation, author of many books on aviation, and fellow in many scientific associations. After going on retirement in 1964, he worked as a consultant in the aviation and space industries. He became a US citizen in 1949. Eng. Mokrzycki died in 1992 and his ashes were laid to rest in the Rakowicki Cemetery in Cracow, Poland.

Mgr inż. Romuald Romicki (1901–1979), Master of Engineering, mechanical engineer, aircraft designer. On 11 November 1918, he participated in the take-over of the Mokotów Airfield. After he completed secondary education, he served in the Air Force as an aircraft mechanic. In 1920, he enrolled at the Warsaw University of Technology which he graduated from in 1931. He worked at the Technical Research Institute of Aviation from 1929 to 1930 and then, after working his Polish Army scholarship off, returned to the Technical Research Institute of Aviation in 1933, staying there until 1935. He then worked in the aviation industry, later returning to the Technical Institute of Aviation in 1937 where he developed static testing programmes and checked aerodynamic and stress calculations, performing strength calculations for the Żubr and Łoś aircraft and worked on designing the Mewa aircraft. After returning to the Institute, he worked on a project laying down aircraft construction regulations. In 1941, during the occupation by Nazi Germany, he was head of the “Dural” Research and Technology Department – the clandestine counterpart of the Technical Institute of Aviation. After the war, he lectured at the Wawelberg and Rotwand School of Engineering and the Ministry of Communication. From 1 December 1948 to 30 April 1952 he was Director of the General Institute of Aviation. In Stalinist times, he was removed from aviation for belonging to the Home Army. He worked for the PWN State Publishing House from 1952–1958. He also lectured “General Mechanics” at the Warsaw University of Technology in the 1960’s. Then, in 1958–1959, he was a research fellow at the Air Force Institute of Technology, and the director of the head of a laboratory at the Department of Strength in the Institute of Aviation in the years 1960-1965. He also performed flutter calculations and testing (TS-11 Iskra). In 1965–1969, he came back to the PWN State Publishing House. He took retirement in 1970.

Prof. dr inż. Władysław Fiszdon (1912–2004). Professor of Engineering. He completed a technical degree course in France and obtained his Ing. Civil de l’Aeronautique diploma in 1935. In 1936–1939, he worked at the Lublin Aircraft Factory on the modification of the LWS-30 Żubr aircraft and on the design and production of the LWS-3 Mewa aircraft. He was evacuated to France in September 1939, where he worked on the French Dewoitine D.520 fighter aircraft, performing flutter calculations. He moved to Great Britain in June 1940 where he initially worked as a trainer of aircraft mechanics in the Air Force, transferring to the Royal Aircraft Establishment in Farnborough in December 1941 to February 1946 (as head of the Vibration Analysis Section of Mechanical Engineering in 1943), where he performed calculations and solved various problems concerning aircraft vibration, including on the Typhoon and Tempest fighter aircraft. After his return to Poland, he became director of the Aviation Institute of Technology on 1 May 1946, and the deputy director for research at the General Institute of Aviation and the Institute of Aviation from 1 December 1948 to July 1961, with a short break from May 1957 to November 1960, when he gave lectures abroad. He was the mastermind behind the expansion programme of the Institute of Aviation in the 1950’s, much of which was successfully implemented thanks to his input and endeavours. From 1961-1973, he was the Chairperson of the Scientific Council of the Institute of Aviation, becoming the Institute’s scientific consultant in 1974-1978. Deputy Professor of Flight Mechanics at the Warsaw University of Technology from March 1947 and full professor from April 1962. He managed a department and was a lecturer from March 1970, becoming head of Department of Fluid and Mass Mechanics at the Institute of Fundamental Technological Research of the Polish Academy of Sciences in 1962, and became a University of Warsaw professor and director of the Institute of Mechanics at the Faculty of Mathematics, Informatics and Mechanics at the University of Warsaw in April 1970. He also gave lectures at universities in the Unites States and in Germany. The author of textbooks in Flight Mechanics and an Introduction to Aeroelasticity. He also organised international conferences and scientific symposia in fluid and mass mechanics. A mentor for several generations of aviation engineers and scientists, genuinely concerned for their further career development and achievements.

prof. dr inż. Zbigniew Brzoska (1916-1987). Professor of Engineering. Outstanding expert in the field of strength of materials and aero structures. He graduated from the with a diploma in mechanical engineering in 1942 at the clandestine Warsaw University of Technology. In 1941–1944, he took part in the works of the conspirational Aviation Institute of Technology (codename “Dural”). In 1945-1946, he and engineer Kazimierz Szałwiński was involved in the organisation of the Aviation Institute of Technology and effectively was its first director and later deputy director. He was head of the Department of Strength and Structures from 1946-1955 and one of the initiators of the construction of the SP-GIL helicopter – he performed its strength calculations. He also checked the strength calculations of the aircraft constructed in Poland. He defended his doctoral dissertation in 1946. Alongside his work in the Institute, he also gave lectures at the Wawelberg and Rotwand School of Engineering, and after its merger with the Warsaw University of Technology, at the Warsaw University of Technology, where he became associate professor in 1954 and full professor in 1962. He held various important positions in higher education for many years. He supervised many doctoral dissertations. He never severed his ties with the Institute of Aviation. He was a consultant at the Institute from 1969–1985 and member of the Institute’s Scientific Council from 1964–1987. In the Council, he was responsible for the scientific development of the Institute’s staff. One of his great achievements was the introduction of modern calculation methods of the strength of thin-walled and truss structures into Polish aviation industry. He also was a consultant in structural and strength solutions for many Polish aircraft, helicopters and gliders. The strength calculation methods developed for aviation were introduced by him into other areas of the aviation industry. Author of many scientific publications and university textbooks. His extensive knowledge was not limited to the technical domain but also the humanities. He had an exceptional memory, an incredible teaching talent and was a very kind and compassionate teacher fostering the further development of the young technical staff.

Mgr inż. Bronisław Żurakowski , Master of Engineering, was born in 1911. During his degree course, he began working at the design office of the Testing Aircraft Workshop where the RWD aircraft were designed. His first project was designing several elements for the modified RWD-14 observation, close reconnaissance and liaison aircraft. The next project involved the development of the structure and performance of calculations (according to the bid drawing of engineer Stanisław Rogalski) of the RWD-17 aerobatics-trainer aircraft similar to the RWD-8 structure. Twenty-five aircraft were produced after successfully passing flight tests. His next task involved the re-working of the RWD-13 into an air ambulance. Fifteen air RWD-13S were built by 1939. In autumn of 1937, he designed the first in Poland, experimental tri-cycle undercarriage for the RWD-9 prototype. Next, he worked on designing the floatplane variant of the RWD-17W. The prototype was flight tested in June 1938, with five aircraft being produced for the Navy by September 1939, but they did not manage to collect them. He also designed a new wing for the RWD-17 in winter of 1938-1939 giving it a better high-speed aerobatic capacity. There RWD-17bis aircraft was ready for production by autumn 1939 but the outbreak of the war prevented this from happening. He remained in Warsaw during the war. He was a soldier of the Home Army from November 1942 and was wounded during the Warsaw Uprising and later evacuated from the Capital. He returned to Warsaw in 1946 and took up work in the Department of Aviation of the Headquarters of the Polish Scouting Association. He also worked with engineer Tadeusz Chyliński in designing the Pegaz motor glider and was the pilot during its first flight. After undertaking to design the SP-GIL helicopter in the Institute, he had a decisive influence on the course of the works. The helicopter’s successful flights won him the State Award of the Second Degree in 1953. The research on new helicopters undertaken by Bronisław Żurakowski in 1952-53 gave rise to the specification of the requirements for the BŻ-4 milti-mission helicopter and the formation of a helicopter design office at the Institute, which was run by him. The prototypes were built in the Institute and ground testing was undertaken. The testing was continued after the design offices were transferred to the Transport Equipment Plant (Wytwórnia Sprzętu Komunikacyjnego – WSK) in the Okęcie neighbourhood of Warsaw. Problems with the propulsion system and the load bearing structure led to the further extension of ground testing and the helicopter’s first flight took place in February 1959. During this time, SM-1 helicopters were put into licensed production in Świdnik
and works on the BŻ-4 were interrupted. After the helicopter design office was scrapped at WSK-Okęcie, he worked in their airframe design offices. He worked alongside engineer Andrzej Frydrychewicz on the PZL 104 Wilga 2 utility aircraft and later on its developed versions – the Wilga 3 and Wilga 35. Due to actions being undertaken to shut down aircraft production at WSK-Okęcie and transfer aircraft designers, he returned to the Institute of Aviation in 1970. He held the position of chief helicopter designer from 1970-1976 and was involved in setting the technical and tactical requirements of the W-3 Sokół helicopter and worked on the preliminary design stage of the PZL-Świdnik helicopter. After retiring, he continued to work in the Institute, at the In-Flight Testing Department, where he dealt with helicopter issues. A summary of the engineer Bronisław Żurakowski’s design acquis constitutes the 12 types of aircraft in whose design he was actively involved and which were produced in a total 1,200 units.

Prof. inż. Tadeusz Sołtyk (1909-2004) , Professor of Engineering, obtained his degree in aviation mechanical engineering in 1934. He also graduated from the Officer Cadet School Air Force Reserve with a rank of platoon officer cadet, air force reserve pilot. He was employed at the Polish Aviation Works No. 1 Airframe Works from September 1935 as a designer in the team headed by engineer S. Prauss. He also took part in the fine-tuning of the PZL.23B Karaś light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft and in working on its experimental alteration with a double, vertical tail and the design and launch of the production of the PZL.46 Sum light bomber and reconnaissance aircraft. He was evacuated from Warsaw in September 1939 and fought in the Operation Group of General Kleeberg in the Battle of Kock alongside the Base of the 1st Air Regiment. He escaped after being taken captive and worked on an agricultural holding in near Radom. In October 1944, he assumed the position of Head of the Study and Design Office in the Civil Aviation Department of the Ministry of Communication at the Polish Committee of National Liberation. This is where he designed the one-engine Szpak–1 aircraft. After the January Offensive, the office was transferred to Łódź, where the Aircraft Experimental Workshops were established in 1945. Tadeusz Sołtyk became director of their design office and designed the Szpak-2, -3, -4A, -4T utility aircraft, and the Żak-1, -2, -3, -4 touring and trainer aircraft, the Junak and Junak-2 trainer aircraft, and the Miś transport aircraft and Żuraw utility and liaison aircraft. These were either prototypes or small production run aircraft (ranging from 5 to 10 units). In 1949-1950, he worked as director of the Aircraft Experimental Workshops, and he was transferred to Warsaw after their transformation into the Transport Equipment Plant (WSK) and assumed the post of Chief Designer at the Transport Equipment Plant in Okęcie. However, this was a time of scrapping own design work and the implementation of Soviet licences, leaving Tadeusz Sołtyk in no position to work on his own designs. This possibility arose with the creation of design offices at the Institute of Aviation. Tadeusz Sołtyk became the head of one design office where trainer aircraft were to be designed for the Air Force. A strong team of experienced designers was established that worked under the watchful eye of Tadeusz Sołtyk on the Junak-3, TS-8 Bies and the TS-11 Iskra aircraft. The preliminary design and model of the latter aircraft was carried out at the Institute of Aviation, whereas the technical design was performed at the Okęcie Transport Equipment Plant. This was also where the four prototypes were built. Prof. engineer Tadeusz Sołtyk also became the head of the airframe design office OKP-1 (in 1955) in the Aircraft Design Centre created there. After completion of the TS-11 Iskra, the design office
of Tadeusz Sołtyk begun to work on the design of the avant-garde design of the TS-16 Grot supersonic trainer aircraft. The model and technical design were completed. However, due to the organisational and personnel changes in the army, and the tendencies to shut down aircraft production present in the Władysław Gomułka’s ruling milieu led to the limitation and later suspension of the works in the design studio headed by Tadeusz Sołtyk. Being aware of the changes taking place in the aviation industry that were heading towards closing down aircraft production that were preventing him from operating as an aircraft designer, he transferred to the Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements on 1 March 1967 where he took charge of the team responsible for the automation of ships and conducted a wide array of research, especially on automatic control systems employed in ship engines. In 1976 he was appointed associate professor. He retired in 1979 but continued to work at the Industrial Research Institute for Automation and Measurements. He was a lecturer at the Warsaw University of Technology and the Military University of Technology, a member of Scientific Councils at the Institute of Aviation, the Air Force Institute of Technology, the Military Institute of Aviation Medicine and the Institute of Aviation. In 1981, he returned to the aviation industry. He became a consultant at the State Aircraft Works PZL Warsaw Okęcie in the construction of PZL-130 Orlik and scientific consultant at the Institute of Aviation. He wrote several books on aviation, into which he also incorporated his own memoirs and reflections. He died in 2004. In recognition of his merits and achievements, the modern conference room at the Institute of Aviation, which was built at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries was named after him.

Mgr inż. Jerzy Świdziński (1923-2002), Master of Engineering, aircraft designer. He enrolled at the Technical University of Łódź in 1945 and graduated in 1952. During his degree course, he also worked on the design of the Żuraw aircraft at the Testing Aircraft Workshop. He was hired by the design office of Tadeusz Sołtyk at the Institute of Aviation in 1952. He contributed to the design of the following aircraft: Junak 3, Chwat (the Junak with retractable landing gear not put into production ), S-13, TS-8 Bies, TS-10 Goniec (the utility and liaison version of the Bies aircraft that was not produced). He was the Tadeusz Sołtyk’s deputy in designing the TS–11 Iskra. Iskra owes its slender design largely to the drawing talents of Jerzy Świdziński. After work on the Grot aircraft was discontinued, he initiated the production of the Wilga 2 in Indonesia on behalf of the Transport Equipment Plant in Okęcie. He was transferred to the Institute of Aviation in 1970 and, as chief designer, took part in the design of the M-14 agricultural aircraft and then on the Lala-1 flying laboratory. In 1974-1975, he worked in an Agroaviation Company in Egypt and from 1975 until his retirement in 1991 at PLL LOT.

Dr inż. Jerzy Lamparski (1928-1990), aircraft structure strength calculation expert. He graduated from the Faculty of Power and Aeronautical Engineering at Warsaw University of Technology in 1951. He began work in the Institute of Aviation in 1952 in Tadeusz Sołtyk’s design office where he soon was appointed his deputy responsible for strength calculations of the TS-8 Bies and TS-11 Iskra aircraft structures. He also performed the strength calculations for the TS-16 Grot, whose design process was terminated. He defended his doctoral dissertation in 1971. He devoted himself to theoretical work on the strength of thin-walled structures with the strength analysis performed with the finite element method (FEM).