Ryszard Witkowski, a sailplane and airplane pilot, an aeronautical engineer and one of the first helicopter pilots in Poland, died on March 14, 2022 at the age of 95. He was a scout, soldier of the NOW and the Home Army, Righteous Among the Nations, graduate of the Wawelberg and Rotwand Engineering School and the Warsaw University of Technology.
For over thirty years he was a researcher and a test pilot at the Institute of Aviation, specializing in rotorcraft technology. He conducted helicopter tests, incl. SP-GIL, BŻ-4 Żuk, SM-1, Mi-2 or Ka-26. He set the first world record in Poland in the helicopter category. He has flown in Indonesia, Canada, Libya, Nigeria, Sweden and the USA. He was an instructor and lecturer at the University of Technology in Cranfield (Great Britain) and at the officers’ academy in Misurata (Libya). He was a court expert and a member of the State Commission for Aircraft Accident Investigation.
He cooperated in adapting Polish civil aviation to European and world standards – he also contributed to the adoption of NATO standards in military aviation. He was the author of the textbook “Construction and operation of helicopters”, the cross-sectional book “History of helicopters”, memoirs and autobiography “Six degrees of freedom” and many scientific, historical and monographic publications about aviation.
Activist and member of the authorities of the Polish Aero Club, honorary member of the Warsaw Aero Club, former president of the Aviation Senior Council and Test Pilots Club, and vice-president of the Warsaw Aviation Senior Club.
He was an athlete glider with a gold badge with three diamonds, a long-standing international air sports referee and a Polish delegate to the FAI International Aviation Federation honored with the Rotorcraft Gold Medal. He worked on the organization of the 4th World Helicopter Championships in Piotrków Trybunalski in 1981.
One can write about the achievements of Ryszard Witkowski for a long time. For us, owever, he was first and foremost a colleague, teacher, and most of all, a Man and a Friend. And although he has not flown for almost four decades, he was still present, supporting us with his knowledge, experience and a kind word. It seems that it would always be that way. And although the flame of his earthly life has already extinguished, Ryszard will remain in our memory for many, many years.
The last farewell ceremony will take place on March 23, 2022 at the Powązki Cemetery (Stare Powązki) in Warsaw. It will start at 2 p.m. with a mass in the local church of St. Charles Borromeo.
Biography compiled by: Miłosz Rusiecki.