AeroLot logo   feature articles

LOT's first planes

The following remarks constitute the second in our mini-cycle of articles on the most important types of airplanes successfully operated by LOT in the period since it was established.

Two DC-2-115F planes arrived in Poland on 3 August 1935 which, as the first twin-engine machines of 1770 kilometres range, enjoyed the reputation of the most modern and safe of all passenger planes. They were able safely to continue flying and to take off on only one engine. They were the harbingers of safe twin-engine communication airplanes.

Lockheed SuperElectraAs Europe's first airline, in 1938 LOT purchased six Lockheed L-14 "Super Electra" whose range was one and half times that of the DC-2. A further four were purchased in the following year. After the outbreak of the Second World War, in early September 1939 L-14H planes carried out a number of courier flights for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to Stockholm, Helsinki, Budapest and Bucharest. Four of these planes were impounded by the Romanian authorities, one was illegally interned in Estonia, three reached Britain via Scandinavian countries and went to serve in British military transportation units in France and also took part in the evacuation of troops from France in 1940.

Cargo and passenger flights were recommenced in August 1944 on Policarp PO-2 (CSS-13) planes. Nine DC-3 planes were registered in Poland in May 1946 and were used by LOT till 1959. This was a metal, twin-engine machine with retracted undercarriage, the pilots' cabin having three seats while the passenger section was equipped with 21 to 24 seats in three rows. The plane also had a toilet and buffet. Ilyushin-14P passenger planes were purchased in 1955 and went on to serve in LOT till the early 1970s. Initially they took on only 18 passengers but, after upgrading,that number was increased to even 42 seats in Avia 14-42 Super. These Ilyushin-14P planes permitted LOT to open up new airway connections. Turboprop, medium-range Ilyushin-18 planes arrived in Warsaw in 1961. They were ultimately reconstructed from 87-seat to 105-seat units.

The first, medium-range, passenger jet plane was the Tupolev-134 operated by LOT till 1978. In 1972 three long-range Ilyushin-62 passenger planes were purchased, in their LOT version carrying up to 168 passengers. The first transatlantic charter flight was performed in May 1972 from Warsaw to Montreal by an Ilyushin-62. On 15 May 1972 planes commenced servicing the 'Warsaw-London, Warsaw-Moscow, Warsaw-Paris and Warsaw- Rome connections while a line from Warsaw to New York was opened on 16 April 1973 (the 25th anniversary of this connection was celebrated this year).

Today LOT Polish Airlines boast 20 modern Boeing planes (five Boeing-767 and 15 Boeing-737), as well as eight ATR-72 and one ATR-42 operated by EuroLOT, LOT's regional sister company. Four further planes of this type are to be delivered to EuroLOT. When one admires these huge, modern, safe and comfortable planes, it is hard to believe that in the early 20th century the ultimate dream was a machine 16 metres long, capable of carrying four or five passengers in an unheated cabin, seated on wicker-work chairs.

To some degree the history of LOT Polish Airlines is that of the development of the planes used in airway transportation. We are truly proud that LOT has always attempted to make use of modern technical solutions.

Today we invite you to travel in our modern flying machines, at the controls of which sit some of the world's best pilots, while the cabin crew is composed of friendly and cheerful attendants. Allow us to recommend our services.

Monika Rusiecka
(On the basis of " Polish aviation transport 1918-1978", Mieczyslaw Mikulski, Andrzej Glass)