Hero Pilots Żwirko and Wigura

Żwirko and Wigura

Żwirko and Wigura

On 28 August 1932 two Polish airmen Franciszek Żwirko and Stanisław Wigura won the International Tourist Plane Competition – Challenge 1932. Wigura and Żwirko met for the first time in 1929 in the Academic Aero Club in Warsaw. Franciszek Żwirko was already a professional pilot who had had the opportunity to fly all the then available planes. He also had had some international success. Wigura, who was six years younger than Żwirko, studied at the Warsaw University of Technology where he met Stanisław Rogalski and Jerzy Drzewiecki with whom he built their first sports plane, the RWD-1 (from the initials of their surnames). Wigura only constructed planes and did not fly until he met Żwirko. Between 9 August and 6 September 1929, Żwirko and Wigura flew across Europe in the RWD-2 made by Wigura, Rogalski and Drzewiecki. Since that event both pilots represented Poland during various competitions, winning numerous titles. Their first opportunity for international success came in 1930 during the International Tourist Plane Competition in which the duo took part, flying the RWD-4 but they had to withdraw due to engine failure. In 1932 Żwirko and Wigura qualified for the International Tourist Plane Competition (Challenge 1932) in Berlin which took place between 12 and 28 August. They participated in the competition flying the RWD-6. The Polish pilots won the Challenge 1932 beating 40 other crews and bringing success to Polish aviation. To commemorate the victory of Żwirko and Wigura Poland celebrates Aviation Day on 28 August every year. After the victory, Żwirko and Wigura became extremely popular but their fame was short-lived. The duo happily accepted invitations to various events and a trip to one of them ended tragically for the pilots. On 11 September 1932 during a flight to Prague, their RWD-6 crashed in a forest in Cierlicko Górne near Cieszyn. Wigura was 31 and Żwirko 37 years old. They are buried together at Powązki Cemetery in Warsaw.

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