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Stanisław Skarżyński : biography

May 1, 1899 - June 26, 1942
This article is about a Polish pilot Stanisław Jakub Skarżyński (1899-1942). You may also be looking for article about a Polish pilot Stanisław Jan Skarżyński (1897-1920).

Stanisław Jakub Skarżyński (1 May 1899 − 26 June 1942) was a Lt. Colonel in the Polish Air Force and aviator famous for his transatlantic solo flight in 1933.


  • Konieczny, Jerzy and Malinowski, Tadeusz: Mała encyklopedia lotników polskich, Warsaw, 1983, p. 155-164, ISBN 83-206-0337-4, Skarzynski, Maciej

Category:1899 births Category:1942 deaths Category:Polish pilots Category:Polish aviators Category:Polish Army officers Category:Polish Military Organisation members Category:Silver Crosses of the Virtuti Militari Category:Commanders with Star of the Order of Polonia Restituta Category:Recipients of the Cross of Independence Category:Recipients of the Cross of Valour (Poland) four times Category:Recipients of the Gold Cross of Merit (Poland) Category:Recipients of the Silver Cross of Merit (Poland) Category:Légion d'honneur recipients Category:Recipients of the Order of the Southern Cross Category:Polish World War II pilots Category:Aviators killed in aviation accidents or incidents Category:Polish people of the Polish–Soviet War

Early military career

He was born in Warta. In 1916−17 he was a member of the Polish Military Organisation (POW). In November 1918 he volunteered for the newly created Polish Army, and commanded units disarming German soldiers in Warta. He then fought in the Polish-Soviet War with the infantry, being promoted to 2nd Lieutenant in 1919. He was wounded but returned to the front. During the battle of Radzymin he was severely wounded in one leg on 16 August 1920. The infected wound needed long rehabilitation, and Skarżyński always limped thereafter. Unable to continue serving in the infantry, he managed to transfer to the military aviation arm.

He completed pilot training in Bydgoszcz in 1925, and served in the 1st Aviation Regiment in Warsaw. In 1927 he became a Flying Captain (kapitan pilot). Between February 1 and 5 May 1931 together with Lt. Andrzej Markiewicz, he flew around Africa in the Polish-designed aircraft PZL Ł-2 (registration SP-AFA), a total distance of 25,770 km.


He was awarded the Virtuti Militari 5th class (for the Polish-Soviet war), Cross of Independence, Order of Polonia Restituta 4th class, Krzyż Walecznych (four times), Golden and Silver Cross of Merit, the French Legion d'Honneur and the Brazilian Order of the Southern Cross. The FAI awarded him the Louis Blériot medal (1936) of which he was one of the first recipients.

He was made a full Colonel posthumously(pułkownik pilot) and the President of Poland awarded him the Order of Polonia Restituta 2nd class posthumously . There are numerous streets and schools named after him. He is the Patron of the Aeroclub of Włocławek and of the 13th Transport Squadron in Kraków. On 10 August 2009 the Minister of National Defense signed the Decree to appoint him to be Patron of 8 Air Base in Kraków - Balice, which now is named after him.

It should be noted that there was another Polish pilot named Stanisław Skarżyński. He was shot down and killed during the Polish-Soviet war on 15 July 1920.

Transatlantic flight

On May 7/May 8, 1933 Skarzynski flew solo in a small single-seater Polish tourist airplane RWD-5bis (SP-AJU) across the southern Atlantic, from Saint-Louis, Senegal to Maceio in Brazil. The flight took 20 hours 30 minutes (17 hours 15 minutes above the ocean). He crossed 3,582 km, establishing a distance World Record in a FAI tourist plane category II (weight below 450 kg / 1000 lb). The plane had no radio nor safety equipment, due to weight restrictions. The RWD-5bis remains the smallest plane to ever to have flown across the Atlantic. Plans of his flight were kept secret. It became a part of Warsaw - Rio de Janeiro flight, between 27 April and 10 May 17,885 km long. He then flew on to Buenos Aires and returned to Europe by ship.

Later service and World War II

In 1934 he was promoted to Major and commanded a bomber squadron, and from 1938 he was deputy C/O of the 4th Aviation Regiment in Toruń, with a rank of Lt.Col. (podpułkownik pilot). In April 1939 he became President of the Polish Aero Club. In August 1939 he was sent to Romania as the deputy Air Attaché.

After the outbreak of World War II he helped in transferring Polish pilots, fleeing from Poland, through Romania to France where the Polish Air Force was recreated. In 1940 Skarżyński after the fall of France he helped ship 17,000 Polish airmen Britain where he became Commanding Officer of Polish Flying Schools at RAF Hucknall and then RAF Newton.

He requested a combat posting, and was assigned as C.O. of RAF Lindholme and No. 305 Polish Bomber Squadron. On 26 June 1942 returning from a mission over Bremen, his Wellington had to ditch in the North Sea due to engine damage. Skarżyński ditched the heavy damaged aircraft in the stormy sea and all the crew were saved. Skarżyński, leaving the Wellington last, was washed out to sea and was the only crew member lost. He was later buried with full military honours on the Dutch island of Terschelling.

Living octopus

Living octopus

In countries which are located near sea coasts, sea food is an important part of national cuisine