FLIGHT, 2 May
1958 page 606
During 1924 a
technical report was sent to the Polish Air Force Command in
Warsaw signed by Dipl.
a member of the Plage and Laskiewicz Aircraft Works in
In this report
he described a new and original method of escape in
"difficult conditions" from an out‑of‑control aircraft.
The pilot was
attached to his seat which tilted backwards under the
action of a strong spring and, was pulled clear out of the
fuselage, through a circular tunnel (2 in photograph), by a
means of primary and proper parachute assemblies (1, 6).
In an emergency
the pilot operated a lever (36) in front of him, which in
turn released a catch in a self‑locking device at the top of
his padded headrest (35, 37). The pilots back‑rest (38), to
which he was fastened, was pivoted at the base (29) and
tilted backwards, as indicated by the arrow, under the
action of a strong spring (32), at a constant speed; this
movement being achieved by the use of a vacuum damper (33).
At the same time a lever (31), connected by a rod‑and‑ hinge
arrangement (9, 10) with the split opening tail‑cone,
brought into operation the two half‑shells of the tail‑cone,
thus forming an aerodynamic brake at the end of the fuselage
and reducing speed. The action of this air‑brake caused the
release of a primary chute (6), which was intended to pull
out the main parachute (1), in the folded position, with the
pilot still fastened to his back‑rest. When clear of the
aircraft the main parachute unfolded in normal manner and
further descent followed the orthodox procedure.
As almost every
invention is a result of necessity, so also was this
ancestor of modem escape systems designed to minimize the
heavy toll paid in lives by the Polish Air Force flying
personnel at that period (1919‑1925). Here I must make a
small digression and shed some light on the situation which
existed in the period between the years 1919 and 1925 in the
Polish Air Force, particularly in the sources of the flying
equipment. At the close of World War 1 Poland was left with
only 13 operational squadrons, consisting of an extreme
variety of aircraft. For instance, the 4th Fighter Squadron
possessed only five airworthy machines (Albatros C.III,
Hannoveraner Roland CL.II, Albatros C.X, Albatros D.III and
Nieuport 17). However, during the 1922‑23 period, the Polish
Air Force command decided to unify existing flying equipment
by concentrating on most popular types, and initiating the
manufacture of contemporary types under licence agreements
with foreign designers. It was decided that
aircraft factory, the Aircraft Works in Lublin, should
manufacture fighters and general‑purpose machines of Italian
design, i.e., Balillas and Ansaldo A.300s respectively. But,
as was soon proved, this choice was most unfortunate, and
after completion of some 70 machines the whole production
was stopped. It was found that the safety factor of the main
load‑carrying spar‑coupling was much below the required
minimum, and was the cause of numerous fatal crashes to
Ansaldos in particular. In the majority of cases pilots were
unable to bale‑out, due to the characteristic g force in a
tight spin, as the machine invariably lost one of its wings.
At this stage
Wolowski's "escape method" was proposed and considered, in
order to provide pilots with a higher degree of safety. here
is some evidence that at least one A.300 was modified for a
proposed test in Lublin, but whether this machine flew, or if
the device was practically tried out, remains uncertain. That
period was bscured by a somewhat blunt decision of the
Polish Air Force Command, who, under the influence of Gen.
Leveque (at that time he French adviser to the Aeronautical
Department of the Polish Air Office), decided to write‑off
all existing Ansaldos.
Signed by Mr.