The first test flight of the TS-8 Bies aircraft by Ing. pilot Andrzej Abłamowicz

Andrzej Abłamowicz was called the Polish pilot “number one” on account of his experience acquired over 14 000 flights made between 1950 -1984 and performance of the first test flights aircraft such as the TS-8 Bies and TS-11 Iskra. He was the living history of Polish aviation after World War II. The memories of this extraordinary character, so entwined in the history of Polish aviation, were written by Tadeusz Kurcyk.

In the Department of Research, Flight IL, on 23 July 1955 there was a tense atmosphere. All the employees were in full readiness awaiting the first flight the TS-8 Bies aircraft, sitting on the tarmac, which was to be performed by test pilot Eng.  Andrzej Abłamowicz.

Before the specified time employees with whom the plane was linked in joint work, and invited official guests began to descend. Among those waiting for the flight could be seen two gatherings, one around the main constructor Tadeusz Sołtyk and the other around the director Władysław Fiszdon. In conversations, two names were most frequently mentioned: chief designer Tadeusz Sołtyk, who was the creator of the modern metal military aircraft and test pilot Andrzej Abłamowicz, who was to check the behaviour of the aircraft in flight.

It was to be admired that just 10 years after the end of World War II, an attempt was made to build a plane completely with Polish construction and the Polish materials available. Hence, too, the bloated shape of the hull being due to the need to match the fuselage to the only available large diameter Polish engine.

After a successful flight the pilot Andrzej Abłamowicz left the cockpit was enthusiastically greeted with thunderous applause and walked to Director Fiszdon submitting his report on the progress of the flight and its properties, including a hard landing, which raised controversy with some observers.

The CAIB’s rules enforced aircraft construction officially approved by the Ministry of Communications: BCAR, the oldest, British, then American FAR, and now the European JAR, which govern all procedures. But in relation to military aircraft such as the TS-8 Bies aircraft other provisions called technical conditions applied. Meanwhile still other provisions regulated the official interdependence within the Institute of Aviation. They were probably internal regulations, traditions and good behaviour.

I decided, therefore, to ask Eng. Pilot A. Abłamowicz about the course of this event with the first test flight of the TS-8 Bies aircraft, and he told me that: “Professor Władysław Fiszdon gave me an order before the take-off, that I should report to him after landing about the flight. Professor W. Fiszdon was the director of the IL, and had I not carried out his command I could have been in trouble.” “Professor Tadeusz Sołtyk did not know about this.

In such situations, the question is often asked:– Who has more merit? The creator, who constructed and built the plane, the pilot, who made the first flight and is the aircraft’s flagship, or the director, who employs these workers. I think that each of them, but in different areas and dimensions.

Each newly created work has many critics who doubt whether we can do good work compared to the rest of the world, questioning the need to create something new, and discourage further actions. There was no doubt the rightness of vision of the ideas of assistant professor Tadeusz Sołtyk among other collaborators such as: Jerzy Świdziński – deputy main constructor, Jerzy Lamparski – main computer, W. Kamiński – manufacturing technologist, J. Winiarski – computer, L. Żurkowski – computer, Witold Sołtyk – constructor, and many others.

Prof. Tadeusz Soltyk’s statement has not lost currency till this day: “There are those who believe that it is better to take a licence, development costs are lower, the product will be cheaper and more reliable. However, nothing is for free. You have to pay for licences, and there can be various forms of payment. And trials still have to be carried out, there will also be faults, and they also need to be detected and removed. You cannot fail to notice that the licence gives the engineer foreign earnings, and takes our own, enriches the experience of the foreigner and impoverishes our own. Thanks to this thinking, we have development in technological progress.

No lesser master in experimental flying was Eng. pilot Ludwik Natkaniec, who safely landed the Bies without engines. During the performance tests because of breaking the lock cowling, one of them struck the propeller causing it to snap. The centrifugal force not being balanced by the second blades snatched the engine from its mount. The pilot kept his composure and showed remarkable skills saving his life and the plane. After strengthening the lock and inserting a new engine Eng. pilot Ludwik Natkaniec flew it for a long time.

Eng. Andrzej Abłamowicz was called the Polish pilot “number one” on account of his experience acquired over 14 000 flights made between 1950-1984 and performance of the first test flights aircraft such as the TS-8 Bies and TS-11 Iskra. He was the living history of Polish aviation after World War II. He was a modest man and enjoyed great authority, often giving lectures at the forum of the Association of Polish Mechanical Engineers. He confided to me that he wanted to publish his memoirs in three volumes: Volume I – Sports activities in the Aero Club, Volume II – Scientific-Research work at the Institute of Aviation, and Volume III – Meetings with VIPs, which he carried for the Polish airline LOT. When I asked him about the manuscript, he said he only has a table of contents, and the rest in his head. As a result of his untimely death we never became acquainted with his rich history of aviation, which in some parts disappeared into oblivion.

In the first year after the death of Abłamowicz, the “First Eng. Pilot Andrzej Abłamowicz Aerobatic Competition” was organized, which was not later resumed.

These memoirs appeared in the book „Tu byli, tu pracowali… 100 twarzy Instytutu Lotnictwa” published in 2017 by the Institute of Aviation Research Publisher.