Ing. Jan Kašpar

Ing. Jan Kašpar is perhaps the best-known Czech pilot, designer and pioneer of aviation. Today it is best known for its long-distance crossing from Pardubice to Prague-Chuchle. His bust is now located not only in the Pardubice museum, but also at Václav Havel airport.

He was born on 20. May 1883 in the Pardubice hotel Veselka to a wealthy citizen František Kašpar. From September 1888, he began attending the boys’ general school and two years later he also took second place in a cycling race. In July 1893 he enrolled to study at the Higher Real School, where he successfully passed the maturitní zkouška in June 1901. In October of the same year, he enrolled at the Czech Technical University in Prague. However, as of October 1906, he attended the presidential military service in Pulja, thus obtaining the title of mechanical engineer after the composition of II. state examinations until 28. February 1907. He then went to study at the 1st German technical school in Mainz, where he graduated only one semester.

In March 1908, he began working on aluminum components at Basse & Selve in Alteen, Westphalia. During this time, he became very interested in aviatics. The following year he returned to Bohemia and started working there at Laurin & Klement in Mladá Boleslav. However, in July of the same year he left the car and after returning to his native Pardubice, he began to work together with his cousin Ing. Evžen Čihák fully devoted to the construction of aircraft.

He first began to build a monoplane, following the Antoinette model, and even when he learned about the success of his French colleague Louise Blériot during the construction, he finished building his machine. After several unsuccessful attempts to take off with this aircraft, he bought a Blériot XI aircraft for 18,000 franks, on which he first installed the engine of his own design, which replaced the type of Anzani. At the beginning of April 1910, machine assembling, engine testing, and taxiing began with the aircraft. On Wednesday 13. April the first attempts were made to take off, which unfortunately ended with a damaged propeller. In spite of this failure, the National Politicians wrote on the same day: The new Czech aviation engineer Kašpar of Pardubice bought Blériot and intends to train him on the Pardubice race track.“ On Saturday, 16th April he managed to make his first successful flight the whole military training ground 2 kilometers long. On the same day, he also passed a pilot exam in front of the committee.

The year 1911 was for Ing. Kašpar is extremely fruitful. In April, he completed his new monoplane of his own construction by installing a 70 hp Daimler AD 65 engine. At the end of the month, he made an indicative flight from Pardubice to Chrudim, which lasted less than 25 minutes. During this flight, he also had another first-person prize, which was the first passenger flight. The traveler was none other than his cousin Evžen Čihák.

The remarkable long-distance flight Pardubice – Velká Chuchle was already on Saturday 13. May. Within 92 minutes, the distance exceeded 121 kilometers. The airplane with which he managed to overcome this distance gave two years later to the technical museum of the Czech kingdom (today’s NTM Prague) and this time he can see him exhibited there. On Monday 5. June he created an unofficial Czech altitude record when he flew above Pardubice at an altitude of 785 meters. Then followed a tour with many public aviation productions. Unfortunately, on 13. October when he returned from Jičín to his native Pardubice, he lost his fortune and, in the accident of his machine, he was injured. However, on 20th November he started to retest his repaired aircraft and on 3rd December he was again flying to public production in Mělník.

On Sunday 6. December he managed another long-distance flight this time on the Mělník-Velká Chuchle route. This distance was managed in 42 minutes and his passenger was this time Jaroslav Kalva, editor of the National Politics. The following years he devoted mainly to public flights and the installation of new engines to his machine. On Saturday 3. May 1913, a sad event came, died by his father, František Kašpar, and he had to devote himself more to family property.

On Sunday 15. August 1915, he was again taken to the 98th Regiment in Vysoké Mýto. He was promoted to Lieutenant for two years, and after the birth of Czechoslovakia, he joined the Air Corps. He actively served until 24. February 1919, when he was released from the congregation for permanent leave. In June of that year, he also became a member of the Czechoslovak Aviation Club.

In July 1923, he left as an official of the Ministry of Public Works at an air exhibition in Gothenburg, Sweden, and four years later, on 2. March 1927, he committed suicide under the influence of a mental illness.