Lech Laszkiewicz : Captain
Sadly we learn that Lech passed away on 29th January 2021 aged 99. My sincere condolences to his family, friends and former colleagues.
Lech escaped Poland in WWII to join the RAF and fight with the Allies. After the war he started his civilian flying career which included ferry work then in to Silver City, then BUA and finally a 1-11 Captain with BCal.
He was a Radio Enthusiast, handle G3KAU, and an avid remote control model aircraft builder too at his home near Gatwick.
Lech's service has been held we believe.
From the Radio Society of Great Britain by Stewart Bryant
Lech Laszkiewicz, G3KAU, was 99 when he died. He had an interesting life. As a schoolboy he escaped back to his home in Poland from behind Russian lines at the start of WW2. His mother said that it was not safe to stay home and sent him on his way to find safety in the West. From his home he travelled via Hungary to Paris to join the free Polish Air Force. He evacuated to Liverpool via Normandy following the fall of Paris.
During the Battle of Britain I believe he was a ferry pilot, taking members of his squadron to collect replacement aircraft. He went on to fly Spitfires and then ground attack Mustangs where they were deployed to attack V1 launch sites. He was brought down in France a week after D-Day when he picked up damage to the oil system of his aircraft following the unsafe release of a bomb by a fellow pilot from his squadron, and spent the end of the war in Stalug Luft 1.
After the war he became a ferry pilot to a small UK engineering firm, which eventually led to him experiencing a forced landing in the North African desert.
He had a series of jobs as a passenger pilot, again with some interesting stories that he told to his friends at the Crawley Radio Club over the years. Eventually, through a series of mergers and acquisitions, this led to him retiring in his 50s as a BA captain. He spend the remainder of his years as both an enthusiastic radio amateur (where he was involved in the early LF experiments) and as an enthusiastic model aircraft pilot. In both cases being a prolific builder of equipment and models respectively.
The Imperial War Museum Archives
Lech's recollection of his wartime experiences are recorded and available here for free. Click Here
From David Heal : Lech was very popular and a very talented and clever man. RIP
From Roger Warren : RIP Lech
From Sally Simmonds : Very sorry to hear. RIP
From Trevor Fisher : RIP Lech
From Tony Rider : RIP Lech, Fly High
From Susie Douglas-Smith: Fly high Captain Lech
From Caron Phillips : RIP and my condolences to his family and friends
From Ian Corby
RIP Lech. Fondly remembered! He taught me how to do a short field landing at LGW in a 1-11, much to the displeasure of the chief pilot! He flew P51's in WW2.
From Gill Black : Lech was an amazing character and had an incredible life - loved listening to his life stories x
From Cos Shiels : RIP Lech
From Jim Will : RIP Lech, I will always remember my first flight at Croydon with you.
From Geoffrey Lewis : Fly High Lech
From Fee Flee : So very sorry Fly Free Lech
From Tricia Riley : Rip Lech. It was great fun flying with you
From John Bailey : Sad news to hear. RIP Capt. Lech....BUA BCAL...Stolat...
From Chris Scott
I flew occasionally with Lech for just a few years on BAC One Elevens in the autumn of his distinguished career. Pilots of his generation were generally reticent to refer to their wartime experiences, particularly those who had escaped eastern European countries - in Lech's case, Poland, to fly with the French and, after the fall of France in 1940, with the RAF. However, there is now stuff online about Lech and a lucid recording he made for the Imperial War Museum of his wartime experiences, which included his ground-attack Mustang being felled over France the day after D-Day - apparently by a bomb blast from another Mustang - and his subsequent incarceration as a PoW.
Lech was a flamboyant character with a great sense of humour and a first-class pilot. It was said that, in his days flying tail-wheeled Dakotas at Blackpool with Silver City and BUA, one of his set pieces - presumably on windy days - had been to vacate the runway after landing with the tail still up, taxi like that to the apron, turn on to the allocated stand and only then let the tail down. That would require exceptional skill.
Like most pilots of his generation, Lech made his own interpretations of the developing standardisation in airline flying but was a very good operator and a pleasure to work with. During my first trip with him in October of 1977, on a sector from Amsterdam to Newcastle, the left engine of our Series-200 One Eleven failed in the cruise, just before top of descent. I was the handling pilot on that leg, having also done the landing at Amsterdam, but I expected Lech to take control for the single-engine approach and night landing at Newcastle. It was typical of him that he invited me to do both; a valuable and much appreciated opportunity for me, but also a sure sign of his own confidence.
Later, checking in with the cabin crew at a hotel on Whitley Bay, I had difficulty persuading the young receptionist to spell his name correctly! 24 hours later, with a new engine kindly fitted by a hard-working team of engineers who had driven the replacement Spey all the way up from Gatwick, we taxied out for take-off on Runway 25 to ferry the aircraft - G-ASJI - to Gatwick. It was very windy, and soon our taxi lights picked out a swan that had grounded itself in the middle of the taxiway. It had no intention of moving, and we could not turn round, so we had to call for the fire brigade to nudge the unhappy avian safely away. Not an easy task for them, and a one-off experience in my flying career.
In due course, Lech reached the age of 57 and, due to the vagaries of retirement ages in BCAL at that time, captains had to retire or accept another three years in the right-hand seat as a co-pilot. Later, I got my command and flew with him once or twice. Any trepidation at that prospect would have been unnecessary; he accepted the change of role with characteristic good humour. I'm very glad to learn that he has since been able to enjoy a long and productive retirement. My sincere condolences to his family.
From Richard Friend : RIP Skipper. A true gentleman
From Mike Thrower
Thank you Lech for all the kindness that you showed me when I joined the -200 fleet......if we were doing a double, he would take me home for lunch with his lovely wife and tell me his old stories. And I have to tell this one....we were doing a double Jersey one glorious day...CAVOK all the way. On the second one he was obviously bored so asked me to get early descent into Jersey. A surprised controller cleared us down, we went past Alderney at 3000’ then he spotted the ferry going between Guernsey and Jersey. The crew and passengers must have been very surprised as we went past ‘very low’ .... we called Jersey approach, reported visual; they replied that they couldn’t see us....hardly surprising as we were below cliff height!! He pulled up, did a tight right base, slammed it into the ‘hump’ and stopped on stand, beaming broadly announcing that he was very happy with his efforts. Blue skies and tailwinds Lech, you were the best
From Ian Saunders : Fond memories. RIP.
From John Simpson : RIP My friend.
From Eunice Musgrave
I was so sad to see that Lech has passed away...and at a fine old age of 99! I remember Lech from as far back as Silver City days and then of course at Gatwick with BUA. A fine man, excellent aviator with a wonderful sense of humour. My condolences to his family. Isn't it quite amazing that all these fine veteran pilots from the war years have lived on to such a great age. God Bless them all!
From Jeanette Nathan
Oh, how sad.....my lovely Capt Laszkiewicz. I think it was a 'Manchester Weekend' [ie we flew from there over the weekend from there to Palma etc for 3 days]. We had 75p night stop allowance, so my self and another girl took our crew meals off to eat. The phone goes..."This is the Capt, I am coming to your room"...Got my friend and we sat on the end of my bed shaking, what HAD we done? He and the F.O came in..."Get your coats girls...we are going out to eat. We do NOT have sick girls on our crew". Phew, we were very healthy AND very broke, but we really appreciated being 'looked after' [one did in those days]. About a year later my Mother and I were in Safeways and met him and his wife, and were able to say 'thanks'. Oh what a lovely chap. Also remember when there was a hard landing him saying 'Every landing you walk away from..is a GOOD landing'.......memories
From Ricky Cuss : Lech was such a pleasure to work with, so pleased he had a long and fruitful retirement. RIP
From Jim Wilson
Sad news, another great gentleman departs for the blue skies. I flew with Lech on the 200’s and every trip was a pleasure to be his first officer. Learnt so much and have always appreciated the help and instruction he so freely gave. R.I.P. Lech
From Loz Allan
I am saddened to read that Lech has passed away. What a full life he led! Along with many others, I have great memories of flying the 1-11 200 with Lech. If you weren’t smiling at the start of the day, you certainly were by the end. Lech was highly respected as a capable pilot and very supportive of those who had the privilege of flying with him. As others have noted, I also experienced short field landings with Lech; “The training captains don’t understand me..” he would say waving his hand with a wry smile! My sincere condolences to all his close friends and family. God bless you Lech - fly high, fly free….
From Phil Bowell
I was very sorry to here of the loss of Capt. Lech Laszkiewicz. He was a very nice man indeed - always incredibly polite and calm. Whilst undergoing my load sheet training under Andy Wakely, Capt Laszkiewicz was one of my first “customers”. Always a pleasant man who regarded everyone as an equal, which as a new guy to load sheet responsibility, was very very welcome. Condolences to his family. RIP Captain. A truly fine airman
From Phil Benson
I only flew with Lech a couple of times on the 1-11 but it was clear that he was a real 'character' with lots of interesting stories. The one thing I do clearly remember being impressed with was that, as we flew across Europe, he spoke to every Air Traffic Controller in their own language.
From Thelma Riggans : Sad news. RIP Lech.
From Derek G Ralph : What a gentleman he was
From Pat Gough
Condolences to his family. I remember him well. Shame most of our 1-11 trips were busy and didn’t get a chance to hear stories of his past exploits personally.
From Tony Cutting : One of natures gentlemen and a fine aviator and captain. RIP Lech
If you would like to leave a message in remembrance please drop me a line anytime at BCalatribute@outlook.com
Condolences have also been extended by:
Dave Thaxter, Pat Cresswell, Liz Rogers, Julie Nuttall, Ray Bridgman, Jennifer Grail, Lindsay Smith, Sylvia Murphy, Joanna James, Alan Reeves, John R Potter, Kris Massie, Christine Jegu, Geoff Johnston, Dudley Rice, Janet Willis, Nick Ridley, Dave Surry, Tina Harvey, Riaz Butt, Jenny Thomas, Jack Williams, Richard Heywood, Helena Burgoyne, Don Eckford, Lyn Lipop, Debee Boerner, Jackie Hebert, Maria Shaw, Karen Strawson,
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