Since 1996, the Aviation Fair has featured famous fighter planes in its program. Since then, it has been accompanied by the Spitfire, a reminder of the British fighter, having major influence on the air battles of World War II from 1940 until the end of the war, connected with Czechoslovak pilots in a number of contexts. Spitfire Meet on 1996 Aviation Fair brought Spitfire LF Mk. IX MH434 in the colors of the 222 (Natal) squadron as flown by F/O Otto Smik in October 1943. During the following Aviation Fairs, we could see more Spitfires with historical and coloring connections to the activities of our war and post-war pilots within the RAF as well as the Czechoslovak Air Force. In the above mentioned connection, this one returns this 3rd and 4th of June again.
Already well known, the Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe TE184, based off-season in the British Biggin Hill Heritage Hangar, has been participating regularly in the Pardubice event since 2012, flown mostly by test pilot Dan Griffits. It was no coincidence that Dan received the first prize for best performance from the 2014 Aviation Fair organization staff. It is known that the owner of this Spitfire, Stephen Stead, shows his respect to Czechoslovak pilots of WW2, which is connected, among other things, with his work activities in the Czech Republic, as well as in basing his fleet here from spring to autumn. For this year he chose a new livery for TE184, while in the past years he had the machine painted in colors of Tomáš Vybíral, Czechoslovak fighter wing commander, and also commander of B flight 312th (Czechoslovak). Squadron F/Lt. O. Smik.
This year, he returned to Smik's War involvement again to remind of his brief command of the 127th British squadron, included in the 2nd Tactical Army of the RAF, which, since the invasion of France, supported the Allied armies advancing towards Germany. Otto Smik was born in Soviet Borzomi, and later lived in Bratislava, went through RAF training in the UK and Canada with excellent results. That was why the British had him promoted to the first officer rank of Pilot Officer. At the beginning of his service, he was not welcome by the local units, he chose to work with the British, where in 1943 he achieved excellent combat results reaching six victories with the 122nd and 222nd Sqdn flying Spitfire IX. He returned to Czechoslovak wing, this time as a fighter ace, with another 2.5 confirmed victories over Normandy in June 1944 and within the ranks of the 310th Squadron he has added three flying V-1s. After being assigned to the 312th Squadron as a flight commander, he was shot down on September 3rd, 1944 during an attack on Gilze Rijn airport in the Netherlands. After forced landing he was hidden by the local resistance family, crossed the front to the Allied side and rejoined the combat service. After all, we had an opportunity to see the design of his Spitfire from this action - ML296 (DU-N) - applied to TE184, in Pardubice between 2014 and 2015.
S/Ldr. Smik was assigned to commanding officer post with 127th Sqdn in Belgian Grimbergen on November 13th. His life ended shortly thereafter, on November 28th, 1944, during a diving attack on railway station in Zwolle, Netherlands, using 250kg bombs. At that time, his Spitfire LF Mk. XVIe RR227 (9N-B) was hit again by a light flak, this time it was unfortunately lethal. His Belgian wingman F/O Henri J. Taymans has met the same fate. Originally picked up and buried in Brussels, the remains were considered Taymans`, but in 1965 the Dutch Air Force team under the command of Maj. Arie P. de Jong has recovered remains of machine RR229 from the swamp in Ittersum, which revealed Taymans' true identity. After discovering the confusion of the airmen, Smik's remains were transferred to the Canadian burial ground of Adegem East in Brussels. In 1994 Smik's remains were exhumed again and transfered to Bratislava. They are stored there in Slavičí údolí cemetery.
In a new livery, with Smik`s codes 9N-B, Stephen Stead with Spitfire TE184 arrived at Pilsen-Line Airport on April 23rd. From here the airplane will move to Pardubice, where Dan Griffits will perform again.