Historical story

Frontal superstitions of pilots

Even the bravest pilots could not imagine a flight without a mascot for good luck. So the co-authors of the soaring victories were dolls, cats and devils.

Captain Camillo Perini made combat flights in Hannover CLII in 1919, taking off with the observer Lieutenant Karol Friser from the Lewandówka or Berezowica airfield. Janusz Meissner wrote colorfully about him: "he speaks German, swears in Italian and knows only a few Polish words that are so twisted that it is difficult to understand them" . Captain Perini was very superstitious - he avoided taking pictures before the flight, avoided cats, banned priests and nuns from entering the airport.

(...) on the mask of his Albatross he ordered to attach a mascot - a tin, red enameled figure of a satyr playing the pipe. Returning from a completed task, he puts a bracelet made of beads strung on an elephant's hair around her neck - as a reward for a successful flight.

One day the satyr disappeared and the screams of the despairing captain did not help:"Porca Madonna, who is my devil?" The mascot was searched unsuccessfully, and the time of the start was approaching. Then Lieutenant Friser suggested to the commander that he should offer twenty crowns for finding her. Perini raised the price on the "clean". It turned out that when the mechanics helped him put on the suit, the devil had somehow fallen out of his pocket. Happy Camillo paid the prize and calm for his devil took off ...

Devil on the rifle

A little earlier, because during World War I, mascots were also in fashion. William George Barker, the best Canadian pilot, one of the most famous airmen on the Sopwith Camel fighter, also had his tin devil, cut from sheet metal and painted red. The devil had his direct part in shooting down more than one of the fifty assigned Barker Germans because… it was attached to one of the machine guns.

William George Barker, the best Canadian pilot, had his tin devil

René Pierre Marie Dorme, a French ace with 23 kills, took a doll in Alsatian costume to the fight, and Ulrich Neckel - commander of the 6th Fighter Squadron (30 kills) - smiled at the bear attached to the rearview mirror above the wing. "Polish" - because there are different opinions on this subject - ace in this group, Godwin Karol Marian Brumowski from Wadowice, the best ace of the imperial and royal aviation (35 shots down) also had a mascot - a luckily horseshoe, attached to the post on the left wing.

A cat always falls to its feet

The reviving Polish aviation also had a legendary pilot, whose masterful skills in aerial acrobatics went hand in hand with superstition and faith in mascots that bring luck. Adam Haber-Włyński, because we are talking about him, initially flew with a cat taken to the cabin. The animal was also on board on May 8, 1914, when Haber crashed the plane - but both of them survived.

Later, our excellent flyer continued to fly with the cat, but in a safer form :the image of the cat was painted on one of the DIII Albatrosses from Ławica , No. 2586/17, which was personally piloted by Adam Haber-Włyński. And Janusz Meissner in his brilliant memories "As I remember today" wrote:"The head of the pilotage, and at the same time an acrobatics and air combat instructor, is a contract civilian pilot of world renown, Adam Haber-Włyński. He won countless sports awards, showed acrobatics all over Europe, suffered many disasters from which he emerged broken, barely alive and - years on! ”.

Adam Haber-Włyński initially flew with a cat taken into the cabin.

Meissner described his instructor as follows:

... is of average height and - to be honest - doesn't look like a fearless ace . He combs parting through the center of his head, trims the brush that grows under his nose in English, the bent arches of his eyebrows give his face an expression of slight surprise or doubt, and dark eyes framed by thick long eyelashes could belong to some demonic, beautiful women . He is reticent, but when he explains how to perform a maneuver in the air, he expresses himself clearly using graphic and very precise hand gestures.

Lucky doll

Adam Haber-Włyński learned to fly in the pilot schools of Bleriot and Farman and in 1910 he became a pilot. Brave and perfect, he shot acrobatics during shows in France and Russia. In St. Petersburg in 1911 he turned out to be the best pilot in the competition. He also stood on the podium in the next competition - in Moscow. In 1914 he was already working in France at the Pilots College in Villacoublay. As a result of incredibly brave acrobatics, he earned the nickname "Le diable" .

Even before the outbreak of the war, he returned to Moscow, where he trained Russian pilots, and later - briefly - Soviet ones. Supposedly, he knew Lenin and displayed bold aerial figures in front of him. But at the beginning of 1919, he piloted Polish planes from the Ławica Aviation Station. Another mascot is associated with the Poznań Lawica.

At the beginning of 1919, he piloted Polish planes from the Ławica Aviation Station.

Probably the best of the Ławica fighters that our hero used, the Fokker DVII, also had a characteristic side drawing, so liked by modellers today:a white silhouette of a Bi-Ba-Bo boy in a red cape. The picture was painted by one of the mechanics, a graduate of the Krakow Academy of Fine Arts, Edmund Dumnicki.

Adam Haber-Włyński flew this Fokker from October 1919 to March 1920. When he left for France as part of the Polish Military Purchasing Mission, his fighter was handed over to Antoni Bartkowiak. Fate then turned away from Haber and Bi-Ba-Bo :the pilot died in July 1921 in the crash of the Italian fighter of Polish production Ansaldo Balilla, and the Fokker, who hit the front in May 1920, was shot down in the defense of Lviv on August 15 by the Russians. The pilot, Lieutenant pilot Józef Hendricks, cut the doll with a knife from the linen side and set fire to the plane ...

Menagerie at the airport

Mascots experienced great popularity during the war, when large losses and the dangerous nature of their actions strengthened faith in superstition and the will to survive at all costs. "All forms of superstition flourished," wrote Adam Zamoyski in "Eagles over Europe".

Avoided pubs where too many crews had drunk their last round in this world. (...) The planes were hung with holy pictures, photos of loved ones, rag dolls, teddy bears and an amazing amount of mascots for good luck. There was a real mascot fever as squadrons, squadrons, crews and single airmen began to outdo each other in finding the most bizarre creatures for themselves.

There were many dogs among the mascots - some flew with their crews, gaining fame, such as Ciapek, the black mongrel, the mascot of Squadron 305. There were cats, a duck, a monkey, a grass snake ... "At one point, the Northolt airport began to resemble a menagerie and then it was forbidden to keep any animals ”- commented Zamoyski.

Zosia was right

It is also worth remembering Zosia, a doll in Krakow's outfit, flying on bombing missions in the Wellington BH-Z cabin of the 300 Squadron. The plane had its own name "Zosia" and was donated by the "godmother" of the machine - Zofia Mańkowska, her husband Szajdzicka.

It is also worth remembering Zosia, a doll in Krakow's outfit, flying on bombing missions in the Wellington BH-Z cabin from 300 Squadron.

The doll always brought good luck to the crew, which was emphasized in the pages of his diary by the navigator of "Zosia", Aleksander Chełstowski. During the flight on November 7, 1941, due to the bombing of Manheim, a very strong headwind delayed the return and the crew was nervous if there was enough fuel to reach the base.

Just in case, I asked the front gunner:"Mieciu, can't you see the shore?" "No," he replied shortly, but had so much feeling into that "no" that I could easily understand his intention:"Get the hell out of you!" . I looked at our beautiful mascot, at little Zosieńka, dressed in Krakow's outfit, she looked playfully as usual, as if saying:"hold on nervously don't change courses and you'll be fine. "

And in fact, after eight hours and a quarter of an hour, covering more than 1700 km, the machine landed on the leftover fuel at the Manston airport. Zosia mascot was right…


  1. Bączkowski Wiesław, Chołoniewski Krzysztof, Military aircraft of foreign construction 1918-1939 , "Color in Polish Aviation", No. 8, Warsaw 1988.
  2. Aleksander Chełstowski, A handful of memories from the life of a soldier - a tramp , Wrocław 2010.
  3. Goworek Tomasz, World War I fighter planes , Warsaw 1988.
  4. Kopański Tomasz J., Fokker DVII Bi-Ba-Bo , "Checkered Aviation" No. 1 (1/2002).
  5. Meissner Janusz, As I remember today , Warsaw 1971.
  6. Zamoyski Adam, Eagles over Europe , Krakow 2004.