• Faithful to my Homeland, the Republic of Poland


  • NEWS

  • 25 September 2017

    Polish pilot Franciszek Kornicki has won the ‘People’s Spitfire Pilot’ poll organised by the Royal Air Force (RAF) Museum and hosted on The Daily Telegraph website.

    Picture: Richard Kornicki


    Mr Kornicki, who is the last surviving Second World War Polish Air Force squadron commander, claimed the title after gathering more than 350,000 votes.


    Thanks to the public support from the Polish community, including the Polish diaspora in the UK, as well as Polish media here and in Poland, Mr Kornicki will be celebrated through a full-length cut out image of him, which will stand beside the iconic Spitfire Mk Vb (BL614) at the RAF Museum. This will form part of the museum’s new exhibition next year, which tells the story of the first 100 years of the Royal Air Force on the centenary of its creation.


    Upon hearing the result of the poll, Mr Kornicki’s said: “I am surprised and a little bewildered. I was just one of a great many and there were far more distinguished pilots than me flying.


    “My aircraft was cared for by a fitter and rigger – great chaps, both of them – and my only regret is that I cannot recall their names, because they deserve equal recognition for everything this wonderful aircraft achieved.


    “When I commanded 317 Squadron at RAF Northolt, off-duty pilots went to the Orchard Hotel in Ruislip for a drink. There were Polish and British pilots, and civilians  from the local area all drinking together. The landlord looked after the youngest and poorest pilots with particular care, and when he noticed a chap trying make his half pint of beer last the evening, he would discreetly send him a pint on the house.”


    Franciszek Kornicki graduated from the Polish Air Force Academy in Dęblin and fought to defend Poland in the 1939 September Campaign. He then passed further training in France before coming to England. He trained with the 303 Squadron's aces during the Battle of Britain but did not fly operationally until 1941. In 1943, he became Poland's youngest squadron commander. Last year, he celebrated his 100th birthday.


    Listen to his story told in his own words during an interview:


    Print Print Share: