Pilots recreate epic 1926 flight from Warsaw to Japan and BACK in 1940’s biplane
A team of pilots is flying from Warsaw to Tokyo and back in a simple biplane to retrace the journey made by Polish aviator Bolesław Orliński in 1926.
Born in 1899, Orliński trained as a pilot in the 1920s. In 1926, he and a mechanic called Leon Kubiak flew from Warsaw to Toyko (and back) in a Breguet 19 A2, a light bomber aircraft often used for long-distance flights.
Flying back over Siberia, the plane was damaged in Byrka, near Russia’s border with Mongolia and China, leaving its left wing broken and propeller cracked.
After fixing the propeller with glue and wire and shortening the other wing, the aviators covered the remaining 6680 km back to Warsaw.
The epic journey earned Orliński the Japanese Order of the Rising Sun Sun 6th Class and the French Legion of Honour.
After fighting in the Second World War, he settled in Canada, where he died in 1992 at the age of 93.
Now a Polish team led by Romuald Koperski, a traveller known for his expeditions through Siberia, wants to retrace Orliński’s journey.
The twelve-person team (which includes two women) will rotate, so that the plane has a crew of four at any given time. They expect to fly 3-5 hours per day.
With 24,000 km to travel, or 200 hours of flight, it will take them over a month, though much will depend on the direction and strength of the wind, Koperski highlights.
The journey will take place on an Antonov An-2, a single-engine biplane produced in the Soviet Union from 1946 onwards.
Although it is superior to the Breguet flown by Orliński in 1926, it is the only available aircraft comparable to it in terms of its achievements, appearances and the simplicity of its construction, the team notes.
Although there are regular direct flights between Warsaw and Tokyo, recreating Orliński’s journey in 2019 will not be easy.
“The world has changed beyond recognition; its geography has changed. Progress in aviation technology, infrastructure in the form of airports, navigational aids, as well as modern aircraft equipment of would seem to override the sense of repeating something that cannot be faithfully repeated and conveyed,” the team writes on its website.
Nevertheless, Koperski and his team are ready to try, making their way east towards Japan using maps, rather than GPS.