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Events - Exhibition THE FLYING MAN on tour in Croatia

15. December 2011 - 31. January 2012
15. December 2011 at 18:00

The exhibition THE FLYING  MAN, Stanko Bloudek (1890–1959) is displayed until 31st January 2012 in the museum "Pomorski i povijesni muzej Hrvatskog primorja"  in Rijeka (Croatia).


Click here for the on line catalogue The Flying Man Stanko Bloudek

THE FLYING  MAN, Stanko Bloudek (1890 – 1959)

In 2009, we celebrated the 50th anniversary of death of Stanko Bloudek.  To honour his life and work, the Technical Museum of Slovenia prepared an exhibition, created with the co-operation of various  institutions and experts.

Stanko Bloudek, universal athlete, inventor, pioneer aeroplane designer and the first constructor of ski-jumps and ski-flying hills, was born on 11th December 1890, in Idrija, Slovenia.  After his graduation in 1908, he went to Prague and was enrolled at the Academy of Fine Arts for the academic year of 1908-9. Unfortunately, very few of his works are preserved from this period, as he studied painting for less than a year. He then moved to the German Technical High School, Prague. Bloudek's decision to study mechanical engineering can undoubtedly be attributed to his interest in aviation. He was a huge fan of aeroplanes from his early student years. Bloudek started building models, studied bird flight and even dissected pigeons, to learn more about flight. Once he had acquired more physical and technical experience, his models made several successful flights in 1906, when he was 16 years old; this was the year that also saw the first powered aircraft in Europe. Additional stimuli in Bohemia, finally encouraged the painting student to go for engineering and this also led him to a decision in 1909, to build with a friend, a flying model large enough to grasp during takeoff and fly with, for a short time.

After the success of this unpowered aircraft, Bloudek made a model of a powered monoplane, Demoiselle, in early 1910. The original was constructed by the Brazilian-French aviation pioneer, Alberto Santos-Dumont. At the time, this was the smallest heavier-than-air craft in existence, and was only suitable for lighter pilots of small stature. Just such a man was the Czech racer Jan Čermák, who was immediately enthusiastic about the Santos-Dumont aircraft and later the Bloudek model, to the extent that he ordered the construction of actual sized version. Bloudek didn't hesitate for a moment and without having any prior experience in this field, took on the job. He connected with right people, Čermák arranging the supply of the engine, and the aeroplane was finished in no time, proving itself airworthy in test flights.

Bloudek designed his second powered plane, to Čermák's order, in the winter academic holidays of 1910/11, which he spent in Idrija. He made blueprints for a small biplane, which proved to be the most successful design from any Slovene aircraft constructor, until 1914.
At the Blaha plant in Vienna, Bloudek's biplane Libela (Dragonfly) went into construction even before the detailed blueprints were drawn.

Between the autumn of 1911 and 1913, Bloudek was employed in Trutnov, (Trautenau) Bohemia by the Etrich family. The father and son had decided to invest some of the revenue from their textile manufacturing into the aircraft industry. Bloudek was the third such expert from Slovenia who worked for Etrich family (after Franz Wels from Maribor and the model aeroplane builder, Pavel Podgornik, alias Paul Hermuth). Bloudek's main task was to remodel the famous single-seat monoplane Taube (Dove) – a plane distinguished by its speed – into a several-seat Schwalbe (Swallow) model, to become the first fully closed aerodynamic three-passenger cabin plane, with a military version as well.

During his service in Trutnov, Bloudek travelled frequently between Vienna, Prague and Ljubljana, upgrading his expertise and expanding the circle of his acquaintances. Back in his early student years, he associated with student groups in Ljubljana that were huge football fans. Bloudek was also attracted to many other sports that he was to later competitively or recreationally engage in or assist with the organisation of.

During his employment with the Etrich family, Bloudek at first loved the opportunity for varied and creative work. However, he gradually became dissatisfied, because the German-Czech factory owners, in compliance with his employment contract, claimed the rights over his all technical innovations and solutions.

Just before and during WWI, Bloudek changed places and companies of his employment four times. He was first employed in Germany at Deutsche Flugzeugwerke (DFW) in Lindenthal near Leipzig, followed by Thoene & Fiala in Vienna, Oesterreichische Flugzeugfabrik (Oeffag) in Wiener Neustadt and finally Ungarische Flugzeugwerke (Ufag) in Budapest.
There is also mention of him visiting the Berlin-based Albatros Werke plant where he was most likely sent for further training. The Albatros were one of the most renowned German airplanes from the war.
There is only basic information on Bloudek's work from the war period and practically nothing about his private life. The war probably took its toll on Bloudek – the same as on other people – and he postponed his personal plans until after the war.
Whilst awaiting the outcome of the aircraft workshop project, Bloudek was employed in a car repair workshop in Ljubljana. The major portion of the vehicle fleet and the associated workshops were also remnants of the former Austrian-Hungarian armed forces. He retained this job until 1921, whilst looking for an opportunity for more creative work.
In 1920, with Czech partners, he founded the Bloudek-Chladek-Lopac Company to supply the Zagorje coalmine with timber. Due fraud by one of the partners, the company went bankrupt in 1924.
Bloudek was responsible for technical services within the company and his ambitious plans included the construction of cable railways and other original equipment for timber handling.
He also turned his inventive mind to other fields. He invented and patented a special lock for the protection of freight wagons against theft. This invention earned him quite a substantial income that Bloudek invested in his own workshop, which soon turned into a small factory for the production of metal products (hair combs and buttons, hooks for the installation of telephone and telegraph wires etc.) intended to ease the post-war shortages.
Bloudek was also engaged in the invention of a device to prevent a person from sliding backwards when walking with skis uphill, as well as attempting to invent a method to reduce the thrust produced by trains on the joints of railway tracks.
By 1923, when living conditions had slightly improved and the demand for his products decreased, he focussed his attentions more towards the motor industry.
Between 1923-25, Bloudek designed an aeroplane that would combine the characteristics of both gliders and powered aircraft. It was a single-seat monoplane called Sraka (Magpie).

In 1928-29, Bloudek designed the Bloudek XV; a two-seater low wing sports plane, called Lojze that he hoped would successfully participate in air competitions. After its inauguration in August 1930, the aircraft, fitted with a 59 kW (80 HP) engine, reached a speed of 200 km/h.

In 1934, the pilot Janko Colnar competed with the plane in Zagreb. Whilst performing a corkscrew turn, he fell into a spin, and due to a lack of height, he couldn't recover from this and was killed.
The accident hurt Bloudek badly and he ceased constructing planes, although he continued to make sketches of various ideas, in particular helicopters, and conducted experiments with models.

A universal sports pioneer

Bloudek was interested in aircraft primarily in terms of the technology involved, rather than in actually piloting them. In 1909 or 1910 he only flew in his small glider or occasionally with his first powered airplane, Racek (Seagull), during 1910. Later on, he is only mentioned as an aircraft designer and constructor, not as an aviator.
However, Bloudek truly was a universal athlete – not only because of the number of disciplines he was involved in, but because of his modus operandi. Apart from his active involvement in competitive and recreational sports, he introduced new sporting disciplines to Slovenia, was engaged as a sports event organiser and as a coach, and last, but not least, he was a designer of various sport grounds and facilities.

Stanko Bloudek entered the history of ski jumping as an innovator, rebel and a man who combined a predominantly ballistic approach with aerodynamics, and thus contributed to the birth of a whole new sports discipline: ski flying.

He died on 26th November 1959 at his desk, writing a letter regarding the proposed construction of ski-jumping hills across Yugoslavia.

Stanko Bloudek
Stanko Bloudek in
Planica, year 1956.
(Museum of Sport)



Bloudek pred letalom Libela

Bloudek na snemanju oddaje PIONIRSKI MOZAIK
Vir: Slovenska kinoteka


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