Polish Wings Across the Pond

The first crossing of the Atlantic by a Polish pilot was the source of great national pride, not least because he achieved the feat at the controls of a Polish-built aircraft — and for Stanisław Skarżyński to have completed his journey in a machine as small as the RWD-5bis remains exceptional to this day


Stanisław Skarżyński and the RWD‐5bis in its post‐record configuration with the second passenger seat and door reinstated. With him are two of the men behind the RWD company, Stanisław Rogalski and Jerzy Wędrychowski. Stanisław Wigura, the ‘W’ in RWD, was replaced by Wędrychowski after the former's tragic death.

Flying across the Atlantic was a dream many aviators shared in the 1920s and ’30s, but for Polish pilots it had particular meaning. On the other side of ‘the Pond’ there was a sizeable Polish diaspora, hundreds of thousands of Poles whose families had emigrated to North and South America, most of them during the huge exodus in the 19th century when Poland was under occupation by Russia, Prussia and Austro-Hungary.

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