VICTORIN Katchinsky
Victorin Katchinsky
Courtesy of The Chirp

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     Viktorin Katchinsky (March 13, 1891) of Sikorsky Aircraft seems to be something of a runner-up on some of the long-term military pilots. Eleven years on active military air duty. Commissioned Ensign from the Naval Academy in Petrograd he transfers to naval aviation the spring of 1912, attends Army flying school at Sebastopol, completes his course on a Farman IV, obtains his Imperial Russian FAI certificate and returns to Black Sea naval aviation that fall. In February 1915 he is promoted to Squadron Leader.
     The fall of 1915 he is ordered to England for an airship course, returning to Black Sea Aviation the summer of 1916, where he takes a refresher course in aerobatics at the Army school. Early in 1918 he is made Wing Commander, Black Sea Naval Aviation. He is next Chief of Ukrainian Navy Aviation for six months and of Polish naval Aviation. He is next Chief of Ukrainian Navy Aviation for six months and of Polish Naval Aviation 1920-1923, when he requests relief from duty.
     Something of an all-round pilot wot---land plane, seaplane, free balloon 1- and 2-engined airships?
     He has been awarded the Gold Sword of St. George; and the Crosses of St. Stanislav, St. Wladimir, St. Anna and another grade of the Cross of St. Stanislav.
courtesy of Steve Remington - CollectAir


     When Victorin Katchinsky read the article in Chirp #60 about pioneer mechanic George Hallett, (EB), and mention was made of the pilot Charles C. Witmer, (EB), it sparked the memories of days gone by.
     Back around 1913, says Katchinsly, Witmer and a few mechanics came to Sebastopol on the Black Sea in Russia to test Curtiss seaplanes. One of the tests was tricky. It involved landing on two wheels which has been installed installed on the long main pontoon. The wheels could be raised by handle.
     Witmer started his flight from Navy Seaplane Base enroute to Army Airport (called Katchinsky Airport) a few miles away. Katchinsky did not see the actual landing, but as related to him later, Witmer lowered the wheels and tried several times before he finally landed on the wheels without touching down the pontoon. Had the pontoon touched, it would have resulted in a serious accident. Witmer himself didn't know how he made it, but he vowed he wouldn't try it again.
This from The EARLY BIRDS CHIRP, January, 1960, Number 62

       February 3, 1986 retired pioneer aviator Victorin Katchinsky passed away at the age of 94 in St. Petersburg, Florida. He was one ot two Russian Pioneer Pilots, the other is Igor Sikorsky. Victorin soloed on a French Farman after one-half hour of dual instruction. In 1915 he learned to fly dirigibles in England. During the russian revolution, he escaped the fate of execution, when the Czar was overthrown in 1917 and ultimately made his way to Poland and became chief of the Polish Naval Aviation. From there on to Belgium and later emigrated to the U.S. in 1928 with his family, eventually settling in Long Island, New York.
     Survivors include his wife, Helen, a daughter Melice Bobileff, two grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
This from The EARLY BIRDS CHIRP, March, 1986, Number 87

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