After 85 years, the Avia BH-5 makes
the flight Pragues - Brussels again !


Text & pictures : Serge Van Heertum - S.B.AP. ©



Tuesday, July 29, 2008, the aircraft Avia BH-5 landed at Grimbergen at around 04.00 p.m. This commemorative flight was accomplished by Chief pilot Milan Mikulecky of the Czechoslovak Historical Flight. The BH-5 was accompanied by an elegant BH-1.

Indeed, 85 years ago, exactly on June 30 and July 1, 1923, the Royal Aero Club of Belgium organized an international contest for private aircraft. This international contest focused on various aspects like the handiness and the disassembly/assembly of the aircraft by the pilot. At that time, the BH-5 had just been built and had never flown abroad. This contest was an opportunity for the Avia company to risk an advertising blow, so they could promote this aircraft and open a possible market.

The pilot Zdenek LHOTA started the flight from Prague on June 28, 1923 but had to land in Cheb after two hours of flight because of the fog. The following day, he started again but had to land again after 02 hours 45 of flight  in Mainz in France because of the bad weather. On June 30, he took off at 11.00 a.m. and landed in Evere (Belgium) at 01.20 p.m. and doing so arrived just in time for the contest.
He had travelled the distance of 800 km with an average speed of 138 km/h. He managed to disassemble and reassemble his aircraft in time and was declared victorious for the category of less then 100 ch. His Majesty King Albert I handed him over the trophy personally.

Thanks to that, Belgium became interested in the Avia company in 1925 and particularly in the project of the BH-21. In 1926 the Belgian government finally bought 44 examples of which 5 were built in Czechoslovakia and the 39 remaining at SABCA.
The first aircraft were delivered at Schaffen on September 14, 1927 and later at Nivelles. The career of the BH-21 lasted until the early 30's, when the Fairey Firefly took over.

In 2007, members of the Czechoslovak Historical Flight built an exact replica of the BH-1 and BH-5 and since then they fly it with pride at various airshows.



Many thanks to the COMOPSAIR - IPR team for inviting us at this event.




Grimbergen Airfield July 29th 2008

The elegant BH-1

The BH-5 in its original colour scheme of 1923


Splendid replica


The star of the day at landing


Family picture : Czech military attaché in Belgium, Gen Avi Van Caelenberge, Juliet Letzca (87 years) and old Czech pilot, representant of theCzech
embassy and the 2 pilots of the Avia planes


Gen Avi Van Caelenberge is testing the BH-5 with Milan Mikulecky

Avia BH-1   Avia BH-5